3 T1S3 DD537Tn 5
Keto ran a curious finger over its glassy surface.
BY JULIER C. CHEVALIER,
ILLUSTRATED BY W. C. TROUT
DOUBLEDAY, DORAN <& COMPANY, Inc
GARDEN CITY 1929 NEW YORK
iBT DOtTBLEDAY, DORAN & COMPANY, INC.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES AT
THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS
GARDEN CITY, N. Y.
I. HOW THE STORY CAME 1
II. GOGl's BABYHOOD 9
III. NEW year's eve 17
IV. THE BEARD OF ST. BASIL 30
V. THE NEW YEAR FEAST AND WRES-
VI. THE FEAST OF THE BAPTISM AND THE
TALE OF THE KHEVSOURS 49
VII. A TRIP TO THE VILLAGE SMITHY 62
VIII. EASTER 77
IX. KETO VISITS DATUM 87
X. SHOPS IN BATUM 100
XI. TENDING THE SILKWORMS 111
XII. THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 118
XIII. TO MENGRALIA 136
XIV. A HORSE TRADE AND A WEDDING 143
XV. THE GOLDEN FLEECE 158
XVI. GAMES AND NUTS 169
XVII. THE POTTER 181
XVIII. HAVTKING 192
XIX. DEPARTURE FOR TIFLIS 203
XX. SCHOOL 215
XXI. GOGI MEETS A STRANGER 227
XXII. THE LEGEND OF SURABO 239
XXIII. THE TURKISH BATH 252
XXrV. THE PIG HUNT — ^AT HOME AGAIN 264
XXV. VTAR, A:ND the stranger AGAIN 278
Keto ran a curious finger over its glassy Frontispiece
He saw a little house perched high above the ground
on slender y stiltlike legs 4
**/< is good to he strong, "^^ agreed his mother, ^^But
one must feed strength'^ 22
"/ wish to reach Ezeroum before nightfall,^' said
"/ have a secret^ said Gogi solemnly 160
How the Story Came
N THE yellow circle of a swinging kerosene
lamp a barefooted boy sat and read. The book
before him was thick and broad and bound in
leather rough from years of use. Its huge covers
were fitted with metal corners and a massive sil-
ver clasp that locked when they were closed.
It was a story book. The bold black type and
faded pictures on its thick mellow pages told of
travel and adventure, of battles won and lost, of
hate and love and life and death.
The boy was born and lived on the great roll-
ing plains of Texas. He had never seen a moun-
tain; nor had he ever seen the sea. Because of
2 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
this, perhaps, there was one story of which he
never tired; he was reading it now:
''And the water returned from off the earth-
. . . And the ark rested in the seventh month
upon the mountains of Ararat. . . . And Noah
went forth with his sons, Shem, Ham, and
Japheth. . . . And he became a husbandman.
. . . And Noah's sons and their children over-
spread the whole earth."
As the boy grew older he read that story,
among others, again and again, but never, when
he closed the book, did he feel that the whole
had been told. It ended too abruptly; it was a
good story that had been cut a little short.
The boy became a man and the man traveled.
The man traveled far and wide; his adventures
were many on land and sea, but none of them
ever equaled those of which he had read as a child
in the heavy old book.
After years of travel it so happened that the
man stood on the mountains of Ararat. He stood
on the saddle where Greater Ararat slopes up-
ward and outward from Lesser Ararat. As he
gazed up toward the icy, cloud-hidden peak
whence Noah and his little family had descended
he resolved to seek the end of the story; he re-
HOW THE STORY CAME 3
solved to find the great-grandchildren of Noah.
The story said, *'And Noah planted vine-
yards." The man came down and sought for
vineyards. Now in all the lowland about Ararat
there was no vineyard nor was there any man
that answered to the name of Noah's great-
grandson. The man, however, dir] not lose hope
but fared onward, southward and westward. At
last he came to the Caucasus Mountains, which
are among the oldest in the world. These he
climbed and passed over. As he descended their
sunny southern slopes he began to see all about
him the houses of husbandmen, and the air was
sweet with the odor of the ripening grapes.
"Surely," thought the man, "I am nearing my
journey's end," and being wearied with the many
miles he had come, he sat down on a stone by the
roadside to rest.
Up the grassy hill, and removed a little from
the road, he saw a little house. It was loosely built
of rough-hewn boards which yet showed the
marks of the adz. It was roofed with curly hand-
split shingles and was perched high above the
ground on slender stiltlike legs. As the traveler
watched an aged man came from the house and
approached his resting place.
4 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
The old man held in one hand a horn of wine
which he offered to the traveler, saying at the
same time with a low bow:
"Victory be with thee. Refresh thyself and long
life to thee!"
When the traveler had emptied the drinking
horn of its contents the old man took him by the
arm and led him toward the near-by house. As
they neared the house a woman came out and
stood with lowered eyes. At the steps the old
man bade the traveler be seated. The traveler
seated himself upon the lower step, and the
woman, taking off his dusty shoes, washed his
tired feet with cool water from a ewer and dried
them with a length of harsh hnen. When she had
done she replaced the traveler's shoes and has-
tened away, to return shortly with a rich morsel
of goat's cheese and a bowl of warm porridge. <
Upon seeing all these things, the traveler be-
came even more certain that he was near his
journey's end and turning to the old man in-
quired how he was called.
And the old man rephed: "I am of those who
are called in this land Karthli, for we are the
descendants of Karthlos, the son of Togarmah,
who was the great-grandson of Noah, And him
He saw a little house perched high above the ground
slender^ stiltlike legs.
HOW THE STORY CAME 5
have we followed, for we are husbandmen and
plant vineyards. Eat, now, I pray thee, and rest
The traveler was overjoyed on hearing the
words of his aged host, and when the old man
pressed him to tarry in their midst he readily
consented. Seven years the traveler lived with
them. He ate with them and slept with them ; he
made merry with them at their weddings and
wept with them at their burials. In days of peace
he sat at their table and in war he fought by their
On warm summer days he trod the mountain
paths in the wake of the grazing sheep or rested
and mused in the shade of ancient castles built
by long-forgotten kings. When winter came he
sat in friendly circles about cheery open fires on
the earthen floors of crude log kitchens and bark-
ened to song or tale. In every crumbling stone
of the deserted castle ruins he saw another picture,
and in every song or tale he heard another chap-
ter, from the old, old story.
They sang of Togarmah, the son of Gomer,
whose father was Japheth, the son of Noah; they
sang of Karthlos, the son of Togarmah, and they
told how he became the father of their people;
6 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
and of his son Mtsketos, the Builders of Cities
and Walls. The traveler heard the story and went
and saw the city of Mtsketos, which is called
Mtsket and still stands, a monument to the name
of its builder.
He heard of Pharnavas, the splendid, who
gathered all the tribes together and drove the
Persians and Armenians from their borders ; and
he stood beneath bridges erected by the passing
generals of Alexander the Great. He learned
that even the armies of the Romans under Pom-
pey and Trajan had been unable to take from
the Karthli their liberty.
The priests told him of St. Nina, who, fleeing
from Tiradates, the cruel King of Armenia, came
to them bringing the Word of Christ out of Cap-
padocia in the third century after his crucifixion.
And the priests showed him the chapel built on
the spot where St. Nina had delivered the Word.
The chapel was built to hold the cross which St.
Nina wove from the vine of the grape, and it
sheltered it for many years until marauding Rus-
sians stole the cross away. The priests told, also,
of good St. Mesrop, who gave to them an alpha-
bet and wrote for them the Holy Bible in their
own language in the Fifth Century of our Lord.
HOW THE STORY CAME 7
The old men told tales of massacre and pil-
lage; how the Tartars came under the Sons of
Genghis Khan and how they were twice visited
by Timur, the Lion, sometimes called Tamerlane,
who came out of the land of Samarkand with fire
and sword. They told of their own king, Gurg-
Arslan, the Wolf -Lion, who marched to capture
India, and how in his old age he returned home
and built the city of Tiflis, which still stands on
the warm springs from which it takes its name.
Last of all he heard of the Russians, who came
and took their country with the sword and op-
pressed them terribly for a hundred years, and
how the Russians had but lately departed to leave
the Karthli again in peace.
When the traveler inquired how their present
king was called, the Karthli answered proudly
that they had no king but that a new leader had
arisen — a just and learned man of ripe years —
and that he was called Noah — ^Noah Jordani.
And then the traveler knew for a certainty
what he had long suspected — the old, old story
had no end! He knew that it went on and on and
on, ever changing, ever new.
Best of all the land of the Karthli, which is
called Georgia, the traveler loved that part which
8 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
is called Guria. Best of all the people of Karthli
he loved the Guriani or Gurians, for they are the
most hospitable of all that hospitable people, and
the greatest defenders of their liberty. With all
the hardships of foreign invasion and cruel op-
pression they have never lost their deep love for
their native land and their proud inheritance of
liberty and wonderful tradition.
So the traveler became one with the Gurians ;
their children called him Uncle, and the traveler
came to know them as very much Uke the children
of his own far America. True, they call their
father mama and their mother deda, but they
have their games and they help their elders ; they
like to go on journeys to new and strange places
and see new and strange things. Above all, they
like to hear stories and sing songs. In the follow-
ing stories which the traveler tells of Gogi and
his little sister Keto you will learn wherein their
work and games and manner of living differ from
OGI was a Georgian boy from the province
of Guria, which lies on the warm slopes of the
Caucasus Mountains. He had been born on the
feast day of good White Georgi, the patron saint
of all the Caucasus, and because of this he was
called Gogi, which is really a shortening of
The priest had come, and with him the deacon.
These two had baptized the child and named him
Georgi. The priest had painted crosses of sweet
10 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
oil upon the squirming body of Gogi with a tiny
brush of camel's hair; crosses upon the soles of
his feet — that he might follow the right path;
crosses upon the palms of his hands — that he
might do good deeds; and crosses on his crown
and forehead — that he might always think aright.
The priest had snipped, too, a dark silky curl
from Gogi's round little head, and after dipping
him all naked into a great bowl of water, had
wrapped him all dripping in a long strip of linen
and placed him in the arms of natlia-mama, the
godfather. About his neck had been hung a tiny
silver cross strung on a thread of raw silk.
Natlia-deda, the godmother, and Natlia-mama,
the godfather, had been commanded by the priest
to spit thrice and blow thrice to rid them of evil.
The priest spoke a short prayer and turning to
the godparents said: "Take ye this servant of
the Lord, Georgi, and watch over him and keep
him as if he were your own ; and may ye answer
to the Holy Trinity! Amen!"
Vasso, the father, and Nina, the mother, who
had been sent from the room during the ceremony,
were allowed to return. Kissing and embracing
their little son's godparents, they said: "Long
life to you and may your evil be on our heads."
GOGI'S BABYHOOD 11
The godparents returned the embraces and re-
phed: "And to you long hfe."
Gogi's mother, Nina, took him from the god-
father's arms and placed him in his little cradle,
strapping him firmly to its thin felt mattress.
This cradle was Gogi's first childhood memory.
The gay paint of its carved posts and the bright
colored wooden beads with which it was decorated
were a joy to his baby eyes. How he longed to
touch them — to grasp them with his chubby baby
fists and draw them even nearer. But try as he
would he could not, for his arms were bound
snugly to his sides by the two broad bandages that
strapped him to the cradle. The bands were of
strong linen and encircled his small body, cradle,
felt mattress, and all. Nina tied him thus in order
that he might grow straight and tall like his father,
Whither Nina went she took little Gogi. Pick-
ing up the cradle by the round crosspieces that
ran from one bowed end to the other, she carried
it about from place to place — to the log kitchen
down by the brook, to the milking shed, or to
the mill below the house. When Gogi was hungry,
Nina knelt beside his cradle and fed him, and
when he cried she would sit spinning silk at his
n NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
side and croon a song while she rocked his crib
on its short rockers with a toe that she slipped
from her wooden sandals.
Always Gogi lay in his cradle excepting short
intervals when his mother took him out to change
his swaddling clothes and allow him to stretch
and yawn. When he stretched Nina was delighted
and, stroking his little, fat stomach, would croon
lovingly: ''Stretch and grow, little heart, stretch
and grow." And over his yawning mouth she
would make the sign of the cross so that no evil
might enter while it was open.
Gogi stretched and grew, and when the feast
of White Georgi came again the cradle had be-
come already too small for his long legs. When
Nina drew the bands that held him in his two
little feet and his curly mop of black hair were
forced tight against the two arched ends.
''The time is come," said Nina, "when he must
have a takhtaf' And Vasso, taking his hatchet,
made his son a rough bed from walnut wood. It
was little more than a broad, short-legged bench
covered with a thick slab of soft felt. From sheep's
wool Nina had rolled and beaten two squares of
felt, one thick and another thin. The thicker piece
she used as a mattress to soften the hard boards
GOGI'S BABYHOOD 13
of the tdkhta, and the thinner one, decorated on
one side with tufts of long goat's hair, was to
cover Gogi on chilly nights.
Vasso took the little cradle from its place in
the corner and hung it carefully on a peg driven
into a chink of the wall. He ran a loving finger
over its carved legs and gave the rattling strings
of gay colored wooden beads a last caress. "This
has been a lucky cradle," he said to his wife. "In
it I slept and my father before me, and we are
tall men and shave our beards. May the Lord give
that our son's son sleep in it also."
"May the Lord give," repeated Nina, and she
made the sign of the cross with her fingers over
Gogi as he snuggled into his strange new bed
to lie on his side for the first time in his young
Gogi was overjoyed with this new freedom of
feet and hands, and with the coming of winter
he took his first few baby steps. First he learned
to pull himself to his feet by holding onto the
tufts of hair on his takhtafs felt coverlet; and
then he learned to walk down one side, around
the end, and up the other side of his bed, stum-
bling and clutching with little frightened grabs
at the shaggy felt.
14 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"It is a blessing," said Nina to Vasso, as they
watched his playful antics, "that our little frog
walks in the winter."
Vasso, squatted on his heels a few paces from
Gogi, was teasing his son to loose his grasp of
the bed and dash across the narrow space of open
floor to his outstretched hands. He gravely nod-
ded without taking his gaze from Gogi's unsteady
efforts to stand alone. Vasso understood what
his wife meant — that little toddlers needed careful
watching in the summer time when doors are
wide open, because houses in Guria stand high
above the ground on spidery, stiltlike legs.
One winter day the little cradle was again taken
down from its peg in the wall and became the
bed of Gogi's little sister, Keto. Her full name
was Ekaterini, but that was much too large a
name for so small a girl, Nina said, and so, to
her parents and her brother, Gogi, she became
Keto. Keto, too, in time outgrew the little carved
crib, and Vasso made for her a takhta just like
the one on which her brother slept.
Gogi and Keto romped together in the house,
and when the weather was warm they loved to
play in the woods beyond the brook that flowed
below the little log kitchen at the bottom of the
GOGI'S BABYHOOD 15
yard. In the woods they gathered nuts or chased
the lean, long-legged mountain pigs. Where
nuts were the pigs were sure to be, for they, too,
loved nuts, and when the children drove them
off with loud cries and bits of stick or stone the
pigs were very frightened and angry and would
shake their great tusked heads and switch their
long tails and squeal with terror of the missiles
and disappointment at losing a fine feed of sweet
One day as the children returned from such a
trip to the woods their father Vasso met them
at the top of the steep house steps and said,
"Come and see your baby sister, my children."
"A baby sister!" shrieked Keto. "Where is
she? What is her name?"
"She is in the old cradle in the big room," re-
plied Vasso, smiling at their excitement. "And
she has no name as yet, but the good priest will
soon find one for her, no doubt."
As Vasso had said, the cradle stood in the big
front room and over it knelt Granny Imnadze,
who lived in the little house below the mill. She
smiled a greeting to the children, and as they
drew near she drew back the coverlet and held
a finger to her toothless old mouth in warning.
16 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
On the tiny pillow of the crib lay a little round
head covered with downy black hair, and a face
that screwed itself up into a dozen wrinkles and
dimples as the bright light struck it.
Keto would have reached out her hand to fondle
the tiny head, but Granny thrust her aside with
an angry whisper. "Do you think that this is a
knucklebone that you can play with?" she asked.
"This is another little mouth to eat the sweets
that your natlia brings from the bazaar in the
"And another pair of legs to run with Keto and
me in the woods," said Gogi happily. "And an-
other pair of hands to gather nuts and stone the
greedy pigs that steal them."
"Time enough for these little legs to run in the
woods with you two little frogs. Begone and let
her sleep," retorted the tart old granny, and
Gogi and Keto ran back to the woods to chase
the pigs and plan games for the newcomer.
New Year's Eve
HE sun was still behind the mountains when
Gogi arose. Hastily slipping into his homespun
blouse and baggy breeches, he pattered barefoot
to the window ledge where his stiff rawhide slip-
pers stood filled with water.
He called these slippers tchouvaki and he wore
them when he had a great deal of walking to do.
18 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
Soaked in water as they were, they became quite
soft, and when worn with thick socks of spongy
wool they did not tire his feet as did his wooden
sandals, with their leather thong sawing between
He emptied the water from the now softened
tchouvaki and banged them against the side of
the window to rid them of the last drops. This
done, he drew them on his stockinged feet and
bound them fast by wrapping their long laces
several times about his ankles and legs.
Gogi was now ready for the day, and it prom-
ised to be a very busy day. The morrow would
bring the New Year and there would be feasting
and singing. Where there is feasting and singing,
there is always a host of guests. Food and drink
must be made ready for the guests, and many
good things that had been put away in the autumn
would reappear to-morrow to fill the great table
that Vasso was even now hammering together
in the middle of the wide yard. Gogi heard the
thupp-thupp-thupp of the hand ax against the
heads of the strong square nails that Vasso had
ordered from neighbor Vanno last week.
"Vanno is a clever fellow," thought Gogi, as
he clambered down the steep steps of his home to
NEW YEAR'S EVE 19
seek the water jug. "Vanno demanded two skeins
of silk thread in exchange for those nails, and
all the time he well knew that they were for the
table from which he would be the first to get
his fill. Never mind; long life to Vanno. The
table is to honor good St. Basil, who is patron of
the New Year and all good things that come with
it. He will accept the sacrifice and watch over
the silkworms this year; the worms will prosper
and the silk will be returned sevenfold."
Gogi found the water jug, or koki, as it is called,
and grasping its damp fat sides with his knees,
allowed a thin trickle of cold water to dribble
from its long narrow neck into his cupped hands.
As fast as his hands were filled he dashed the
water into his face ; he shook his head to get the
water out of his ears, dried his hands on the loose
skirts of his blouse and dashed around the corner
of the house to see the table finished.
*'Wah!" said his father, Vasso, by way of greet-
ing, as he saw Gogi's still damp face at his busy
elbow. "You have come to hold the nails for me,
Gogi would have liked to drive a nail himself,
but he knew that he could never swing the heavy
hatchet hard enough to force them through the
20 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
tough planks. It was fun to watch his father, how-
ever, so he took the nails and stood carefully to
Thupp-thupp-thupp . . . bang-bang, came
the blows of Vasso's hatchet, and one by one the
long nails disappeared into the wood. Now and
then a spark flew from the swishing head of the
hatchet as it glanced from the head of a spike,
and Gogi thought :
*'Vanno, the smith's son, is not such a bad fel-
low after all. How the sparks flew when he was
making the nails ! It must be nice to be sixteen and
almost a man; to make nails and swords and
sharpen plows and be the champion wrestler of
the whole countryside. Vanno sometimes allowed
the smaller boys to pump the forge when they
came with bullocks to be shod. If the boys were
too small the huge bellows dragged them off their
feet, and then Vanno and his father, Grigo, the
smith, would laugh and shout and slap their knees
and say: 'Ho, little gogo, little girl, back to your
knitting! Home to your mother!' "Yes, Vanno
was a big fellow, but when it came to throwing
a bullock and lashing his feet to a pole for shoeing,
even he had need of his father, Grigo."
Vasso drove home the last of the nails with a
NEW YEAR'S EVE 21
mighty bang and, standing back to inspect his
work, passed the hatchet to Gogi. This was just
what Gogi had been looking forward to, and he
already knew what was expected of him. He was
to go for the filbert sapling from which Vasso
would make the "Beard of St. Basil." Other
years Vasso had chosen the tree himself, but a
week or so ago he had mentioned that Gogi might
go this year.
As Gogi neared the little log kitchen that stood
on the brookside below the house he threw back
his shoulders and walked very straight, with the
shining hatchet tilted on his shoulder. He slack-
ened his pace as he came closer, hoping that his
mother, Nina, or his sister, Keto, who was help-
ing her, might notice him.
"Gogi goes for the Beard of St. Basil," a shrill
voice cried, and Gogi knew that his sister had
Nina, with head snugly bound in a black ker-
chief, turned from the great pot of millet por-
ridge which she was stirring to greet her son.
"May thy troubles be on my shoulders!" said
the mother. "Surely you are a young man and
go to fetch the Beard of St. Basil (may his
blessing be on our roof) ."
n NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"It is my year," answered Gogi, "and a great
Beard it shall be, for I am well able to carry a
man's beard these days."
"It is good to be strong," agreed his mother,
"but one must feed strength." And knowing that
the lad wished to be on his way, she gave him a
steaming chunk of cornbread and a moist lump
of good salty cheese as they talked.
''Natlia-mama (the godfather) comes to us
with the New Year, and the pig to be roasted
is as big as an ox, for the natlia is a rich man who
has seen much, and we would not have any shame
on our house. Therefore, when you have found
a sapling for the Beard seek another upon which
to roast the pig, for the one we used last year
is far too small. See that it is strong and with a
good bend so that it may be easily turned under
the great weight of so huge a pig."
Gogi, with a word of thanks for the food and
another of assent to her request, placed the bread
and cheese in the peak of his hashlik, which had
fallen from his head and hung down his back.
Waving his hand in a farewell, he leaped from
stone to stone across the shallow stream of the
brook and started toward the forest at a fast trot.
The wood was filled with filbert trees, but Gogi
'It is good to be strong;' agreed his mother. ''But one
must feed strength;'
NEW YEAR'S EVE 23
was not contented with the first to which he came.
He followed from one to another. Each time as
he found a good one and made ready to chop it
down, he was sure to discover another and better
one somewhere near. St. Basil's feast came but
once a year, and Gogi wanted nothing but the
At last he found one that suited him and care-
fully cut it down. After trimming the twigs from
the young tree, he placed it on one side and turned
to seek another for a new wooden spit upon which
to roast the giant pig. He lost no time in this
second choice and soon set out for home, dragging
the two trees behind him.
Vasso was waiting in the kitchen when Gogi
returned, and together they began to prepare the
Beard of St. Basil. Vasso stripped the bark from
the tiny tree and closely trimmed the twigs.
When he had finished this he began to heat the
tree in the flames of the open fire that burned
merrily in the middle of the kitchen floor. As he
turned the tree the wood became hotter and hot-
ter; steam came from it in little jets and spurts,
and it seemed ready to burst into flames when
Vasso withdrew it. The larger end he placed in
a convenient chink of the wall and on the smaller
U NOAH*S GRANDCHILDREN
end he pressed with his stomach. When it was
caught firmly in this manner he began to draw
his sharp hatchet along the sides of it, starting
at the larger end and scraping toward the smaller.
With each succeeding scrape a long snow-white
streamer curled up under the razorlike edge of
Scrape — scrape — scrape, went the big hatchet
in Vasso's big knotty hands, until the httle sap-
ling was covered with hundreds of silky, snowy
streamers that made it appear like a huge white
beard — like the white beard of St. Basil himself,
as he smiled down from his picture in the circle
of shining candles at the little church in the vil-
lage of Ozerget.
Vasso took a short piece of wood which he had
chopped from a bough and tied it to the Beard
at the top where the bare end protruded, making
in this way a sort of cross. He sharpened the ends
and gave the whole a twirl that made every hair
of the Beard stand out like a skirt of a ballet
dancer. He seemed to be satisfied with his efforts,
for with a grunt of admiration he placed the
Beard in the corner and drove his hatchet deep
into a log of the wall where it was always kept
when not in use.
NEW YEAR'S EVE 25
With the Beard completed, Gogi suddenly
remembered the cheese and bread which reposed
in the peak of his bashlikj where he had thrown
it on returning with the trees. Vasso strode across
the yard and into the barn; Gogi, left alone,
found his forgotten food, long cold, and seated
on the log sill of the kitchen door, began to munch
Vasso reappeared presently, leading his shaggy
pony, and mounting, trotted out of the yard and
up the narrow dirt road. Gogi gazed after his
father's bobbing form as long as it was in sight
and thought : "He rides to meet natlia-mama, the
godfather, and Uncle Kola, who come from the
A turn in the road swallowed the figure of
Vasso, and Gogi turned his idle gaze to the
kitchen. All about him he saw evidence of the
feast ; on the broad low table lay the pig, singed
of his bristles in a fire of straw and scrubbed
white with hot water and shreds of spongy bark.
Beside the pig lay the long, crooked sapling which
Gogi had brought from the woods and upon
which the pig was to be roasted. A barrel of
pickles stood in a cool corner of the room, farthest
from the fire in its middle ; the head of the barrel
26 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
was knocked in and the juicy green tomatoes,
beans, and cucumbers peeped up through a thin
layer of oak leaves, ready to be eaten. High on
the smoky rafters hung a dozen or more of what
looked very much like huge tallow dips or color-
less sausages. As the boy's roving eye came to rest
on these it filled with a greedy light.
"Sugar sausages," thought he, as he gazed
yearningly at them. "To-morrow we shall know
Sugar sausages they were, indeed, and Nina,
the mother, had made them last autumn at the
time of grape picking. She had boiled a great
pot of sweet grape juice and corn meal and into
the thick mixture she had dipped long strings
of filbert nuts. Like tallow dips, each string had
been dipped several times and at last hung to
dry on the high rafters where Gogi now saw them.
She had poured out the flour and juice that re-
mained in the pot onto a strip of coarse, home-
spun silk and placed it in the warm sun to dry;
when the mush had dried through and through
Nina had pulled it free of the cloth and roUed it
up as though it were itself a piece of cloth, and
placed it in the bottom of the big walnut chest to
await the feast of St. Basil or some other holiday.
NEW YEAR'S EVE n
It was very good to nibble — tough and rubbery
While Gogi ate, his mother entered the kitchen
and, wishing him "a good appetite," began the
weary round of labor that came with each feast
day. As soon as Gogi had swallowed the last
crumb Nina handed to him a heavy wooden object
that looked very much hke a thick wooden hour-
glass. She gave him, also, a big smooth pear-
shaped stone and a shallow pan of nut meats
mixed with a few lumps of coarse rock salt.
Gogi had never seen a meat grinder or kitchen
mill; in fact, he had never heard of one, but in a
few minutes he was grinding the nut meats and
salt at a great rate. First he put the nuts and salt
with a dried red pepper into the hollow of the
wood; then he began to pound and grind them
into a pulp with the pear-shaped stone. Nina
would later mix the ground nuts with warm water
and vinegar to make a cold sauce for the cold
roast chicken and turkey. This would be tsuisvoi,
and no one ever heard of a feast without tsutsivL
And so the long day passed. Task after task
was finished by the busy hands of Nina and little
Keto, and now and then Gogi came in for a share
of the work.
28 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
The shadows lengthened and night fell. From
the little kitchen by the brook came the appetizing
odors of cooking food and an intermittent thud-
ding like the muffled roll of a giant drum. The
drumlike sounds came from the hatok, upon
which Nina was ironing the table spreads for
the holiday table.
Nina folded the great squares of coarse linen
and wrapped them snugly about a hard wooden
roller not unlike a long rolhng pin for pastry.
Placing the roller with its layer of table spread
upon the kitchen table, she would roll it, always
in one direction, with a thick, heavy club. This
club was just about the size and shape of a cricket
bat that had been slightly bent in the middle and
of which the flat side had been covered with row
on row of te^th. As these teeth were drawn across
the roll of linen, they made the thudding, drum-
like sounds. Each square of hnen was treated in
this manner for several minutes, and when it was
removed it was quite soft and smooth and un-
Little Keto rocked the baby in her tiny carved
crib to one side, and in the center of the kitchen
floor the fire blazed merrily. Gogi sat nodding at
NEW YEAR'S EVE 29
the day's last task — ^he was roasting the pig for
The pig, with his tail and ears covered with
a thick coating of flour to keep them from burn-
ing, was speared on the wooden spit which Gogi
had brought from the woods. Each end of the
sapling spit was held in the crotch of a forked
stick driven into the dirt floor of the kitchen, and
as Gogi bore down on its crooked length it turned
over and over. The pig sizzled and browned as it
turned with the spit, and the flickering fames
threw its black shadow onto the wall to somer-
sault and spin like the giant figure of some
strange goblin dancing madly to the drumming
of Nina's katok.
The Beard of St. Basil
HE embers of the open kitchen fire had died
to a dull red. A last dribble of fat fell from the
roasted pig and, striking the hot coals, burst with
a little crackle into a sizzling yellow flame that
again hghted the still darkness. Keto, the baby,
and her cradle were gone from the far corner.
Only a stack of snow-white linen on the table re-
mained to show where Nina had been working.
Alone beside the fire squatted Gogi and slum-
bered, his nose between his knees, his arms hug-
ging his legs.
A tall figure loomed in the gray square of the
THE BEARD OF ST. BASIL 31
kitchen door and a jolly voice shouted, "Victory
be to this house and to the master of it!"
Tired as he was, sleep was gone from Gogi in
a moment, and stumbling hurriedly to his feet,
he rushed across the earthen floor and into the
arms of the newcomer. "To thee victory and long
life!" he cried, as the newly arrived guest em-
braced him and kissed first one cheek and then
the other. Then, wrigghng from the hold of the
tall man, Gogi faced the door and, cupping his
hands, shouted toward the house, ''Dedal Dedal
Natlia mowida! Mother! Mother! Godfather is
A light flickered in the dark house, and scarcely
had the natlia seated himself on the bench which
Gogi had dragged forward when Nina bustled
into the kitchen to salute him. "Greetings to thee
and welcome," said she with a hospitable smile,
and from the sheltering flare of her wide woolen
skirts Keto peeped with curious eyes at her
brother's natlia, who looked very grand to her
young gaze in his fine town-made clothes and
tall polished boots of glistening goatskin.
Arm in arm from the bam, whither they had
taken the horses, came Vasso and Uncle Kola.
While Uncle Kola exchanged greetings with Nina
S2 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
and a bashful, sleepy Keto, Vasso untied his car-
pet-cloth saddlebags and took from one side a
"It is a batcJii/' cried Gogi joyfully. He lifted
the batcJii from the table to try its weight. It was
the almost meatless shoulder bone of a cow, but
in Guria, where beef is seldom slaughtered, it is
very rare and difficult to buy. The Gurian host
who is able to place a batchi before his guests is
certain of their hearty praise.
Vasso dragged a huge silver watch from a
leathern pouch sewed safely to the band of his
breeches, and glancing at the daggerlike Turkish
figures on its round dial, he said, "It is near mid-
night. Let us make ready. And you, Nina, and
you, Keto — get you to your women's business."
Nina and Keto returned to the house, and to
the menfolk standing at the kitchen door soon
came the rattle of the closing door and its wooden
bar that clanged into place to lock it.
"Follow me," said Vasso to the men; and to
Gogi he added, "Bring the Beard, Gogo-heart."
The little party, led by Vasso, entered the wine
shed. Inside the shed lay the long hollowed log
in which the grapes were trampled to crush out
the wine. On the log lay a huge wooden bowl as
THE BEARD OF ST. BASIL 33
big as a washtub. The bowl was heaped high with
every sort of good thing.
The curly ends of sugar sausages and the fat
sides of winter melons peeped from the slopes of
a great pyramid of fruit and nuts that was piled
in its center. Around the rim in rows lay ears
of golden corn; a hank of silk and one of wool;
a lump of yellow beeswax and a twist of home-
grown tobacco ; a sprig of tea leaves and one of
bay; and carrots and beets and a cabbage — in
short, it was a real cornucopia.
"Here, Carrier of the Beard," said Vasso,
"pick fruit for your cross."
Gogi grabbed in the pile of goodies, and taking
up a huge rosy apple, he speared it on the sharp-
ened end of the sapling from which the Beard was
whittled. On the points of the crosspiece he thrust
a pear and a pomegranate. Picking up another
pomegranate, Gogi dug into its dry, red skin with
the ends of his fingers and made its scarlet juice
spurt out in little jets that peppered the white
floss of the Beard with a thousand tiny blood-
"Now," said Gogi, "it is my turn to lead."
Lifting the Beard to his shoulder, he waved a
hand and cried, "Follow me — Abbar
84 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
The group ascended the slope from the wine
shed to the house. First came Gogi, the Carrier
of the Beard ; then followed the natlia-mama and
Uncle Kola in single file; Vasso, with the heavy-
wooden tub balanced on his head, brought up
Straight to the door led Gogi, and struggling
up the steep, ladderlike steps with the cumber-
some Beard, he rapped thrice on the fast-barred
door with his knuckles.
"Who is this?" inquired the voice of Nina from
"It is I, St. Basil," answered Gogi.
"What would you of this house, good St.
Basil?" questioned Nina, without, however, open-
ing the locked door.
"I bring to this house a new year with many
good things," answered Gogi, in the way that he
had heard his father speak in other years.
But Nina seemed hard to please, for again she
asked, "What bring you, good St. Basil?"
"I bring heavy ears of golden corn," replied
Gogi patiently. "And sweet syrup of mulberries;
and wool and fruit and honey in the comb ; and
much good cheese and tall tobacco with broad
THE BEARD OF ST. BASIL 35
"It is a lean new year that you bring, good St.
Basil," said Nina in a disappointed tone, and
Grogi knew that he had failed in guessing the
thing that his mother wished most of all for the
coming year. It was all a game, and Gogi knew,
too, what was to be done.
He slipped down the steps to the ground and
whispered with the others. "What can it be that
deda wishes?" he inquired of his father.
"Can it be," suggested Vasso, "a length of
thin cotton goods with bright flowers on it such
as she saw in the bazaar? Or perhaps it is a pair
of scarlet toufli for baby Morro's feet."
"If it is a picture book for Keto, I have it,"
said the natlia, "Also I have brought a new black
kerchief for Nina."
"It is hard to guess a woman's thoughts," said
Uncle Kola. "If it were a man, I would say that
he wanted a good crop of grapes or a new saddle
or a bridle with silver buckles — ^but who knows
what a woman wants?"
Again Gogi mounted the steps. He knocked
at the closed door a second time and again the
same questions were exchanged.
Said Gogi, "I bring young lambs and baskets
of juicy grapes and shoes for baby Morro; I
36 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
bring love and a silk kerchief and printed cloth
from the city to the mistress of this house."
At the mention of the printed cloth the bolt
rattled and the door swung open. "Enter, St,
Basil, and welcome to this house," laughed Nina,
as she embraced Gogi and dragged him into the
house. ^'Gomarjos Akhalia Tselitsadil Hail to the
New Year! GomarjosT shouted the men below,
and Uncle Kola and the natlia, drawing pistols
from their belts, fired shot after shot into the
still night air as they greeted the new year. The
echoes came ringing back from the mountains,
and with them came the added sounds of other
gunshots from the neighboring hamlet and faint
shouts of other merrymakers.
Gogi placed the Beard in the corner of the room
beneath the holy picture with its Kttle rushlight,
and the company sat down to a small table in the
center of the room, for in Georgia the new year
is ushered in with food and drink. Nina brought
cold chicken and a big slab of steaming corn
bread that had been warmed in the hot ashes of
the brass mongol that stood in the room. "Good
appetite," said Nina to the men as she placed
the food before them.
The natlia made a place for Gogi at his side
THE BEARD OF ST. BASIL 37
and, thrusting a hand into the deep pocket of his
town-made clothes, produced a package which
he smuggled into the boy's palm.
"A chocolate bar," thought Gogi, his mouth
watering as he recognized the red paper wrapper
with the silver foil protruding from its ends. He
took the chocolate bar carefully from its bright
cover and broke it in half. As he nibbled one
sweet half he tucked the other back into the paper.
"I shall save a piece for Vanno," said Gogi to
himself. "The natlia says that it makes those who
eat it strong and Vanno will have need of much
strength when he wrestles at the feast to-morrow."
Gogi nestled against the tall figure of his god-
father, very sleepy but very happy and proud
that he was counted a young man and sat at the
table with his father and his guests.
When the men had broken their fast the natlia
filled a great horn with red wine and, looking
straight at Vasso, he said as he drank, "Hail to
this family and long life!"
"Hail to thee, natlia, and to thee long life," re-
plied Vasso, bowing and touching first his stom-
ach, then his lips, and last his brow in salute.
Then the natlia caught up the bare drumstick,
the meat of which had been his share of the meal,
38 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
and twining it between the fingers of one hand,
he snapped the bone in twain with one swift ges-
tm-e. This was a custom, and as he did it he turned
to Nina and said, "Health and strength to the
hands that cooked this fowl!"
"Good appetite to the natlia/' replied Nina,
pleased with the compliment.
As the things were cleared from the table Uncle
Kola took down the guitar from its nail in the
wall and thrummed the strings as he tuned the
instrument. The natlia and Vasso rolled thick
funnel-shaped cigarettes from a wooden box that
Nina placed on the table, and Gogi snuggled still
closer to the natlia and dozed.
"Our little frog is asleep," Gogi heard his god-
father say; and he felt his strong arms around
him as the natlia lifted him from the bench and
placed him on the soft felt of the takhta. Nina
came and drew the warm folds of the coverlet
over his tired legs. Uncle Kola twanged softly
at the strings of his guitar; the natlia spoke in a
low tone with Vasso about the news from the city.
Somewhere on the hills above a lone jackal howled
mournfully; Gogi slept in his corner and dreamed
of the coming feast, and the wrestling match, and
his hero, Vanno, the blacksmith's son.
The New Year Feast and Wrestling
O EE !" said Gogi to little Keto, as they stood
in the early dawn at the kitchen door. "It is as I
told you. Vanno is our first guest."
"Of the New Year! Of the New Year!"
shouted the blacksmith's sturdy son as he caught
sight of the watching pair.
"The best of the New Year to Vanno, the son
40 NOAH^S GRANDCHILDREN
of Grigo," answered the brother and sister, and
Gogi thought, "It is well, after all, that Vanno
is the first, for if others were here he would not
care, perhaps, to talk with a boy so young as I
am." Aloud, he added by way of further greet-
ing, "Our house is yours and our salt for your
Keto knew, as well as her mother, how a guest
should be treated, and when Vanno reached the
door she was ready with a koki of water which
she poured over his outstretched hands. "Long
life to you, lady," said Grigo's son as he wiped his
dripping fingers on the rough linen towel that
Gogi would have hked to sit and talk with
Vanno of the wresthng match. He would have
liked to take a peek at Vanno's wrestling shirt,
for he was quite sure that it was a wrestling shirt
that Vanno carried in the bundle slung over his
broad shoulder. Nina's shrill call, however, robbed
him of these pleasures. He must go to the mill
for the meal.
Reaching the brook below the kitchen, Gogi
followed its banks until he came to the little log
hut that held the grist mill. Long before he ar-
rived he could hear the Mmmmmmm-Mmmmm-
THE NEW YEAR FEAST 41
mmm-Mmmmmmmm of the spinning stones and
the musical tinkle of the little stick that, bouncing
on their rough sides, jiggled the yellow grains of
corn in a flashing golden stream from a wooden
hopper into the hollow of the grinding stones.
With a paddle that was tied to the box about
the stones, Gogi scraped and scooped a sackful
of the fluffy drifts of creamy-yellow corn meal.
As he worked, still more sifted out in little flur-
ries like flying snow from between the grinders
that spun so swiftly, driven by the water wheel
beneath the mill.
By the time Gogi had left the sack of fresh meal
with Nina and reached the front of the house a
group of twenty or more guests had arrived. This
was not strange to Gogi. Many guests came be-
cause his father Vasso was a man much esteemed
by his neighbors and kinsmen and Nina was
famous for her cooking. To Vasso's house, too,
came people from the city such as the natlia, who
was a wealthy and wise man, and Uncle Kola,
who was a clerk at the Tiflis Courthouse. Such
people had much to tell which the villagers and
farmers were eager to hear.
The group of guests gathered in a close circle
about two figures that sat on the stoop — a wrin-
42 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
kled old man and a youth of sixteen or seventeen.
The old man took from the breast of his long
worsted coat a hollow wooden pipe with a broad
reed of cornstalk. The youth unslung from his
back a deep drum, and when the elder had tuned
the pipe to his taste the two began to play.
At first they played slowly, while the circle
of men clapped their hands or stood, hands on
hips, beating time with their toes. One measure,
two measures, three were played ere with a sharp
cry one of the circle leaped into its middle and
began a dance.
One hand on his hip, the other hand held high,
the dancer glided, spun, and turned from one side
of the close ring to the other. Faster and faster
piped the piper and louder and louder came the
clapping of the onlookers. Here and there a
watcher chanted a hissing:
''Tashi! Tashi! . . . Tashi! Tashir
A hand appeared from without the circle hold-
ing a glass of wine. Without missing a step of
his dizzy dance, the dancer grasped the glass and
placed it on his bared head. This done, he seemed
to whirl even faster than before. His soft-booted
feet flew back and forth like the wind, and the
long skirts of his coat stood out as he spun. With
THE NEW YEAR FEAST 43
drawn dagger and steps ten times harder than
any he had danced before, he made one last mad
round and halting at the feet of the musicians,
snatched the brimming glass from his head to
drink it amid a storm of applause and loud shouts
of "Hail, Hail!"
When the dance ended the circle broke up and
regathered about the long table which Vasso had
built the morning before. "Hail to our tulum-
bashr cried Vasso, pressing a huge horn of wine
into the big hand of Grigo the blacksmith, who
lived with his son Vanno in the valley below. This
meant that Grigo had been chosen the Head of
the Table for the time of the feast. It was his
duty to see that everyone got a full share of the
food, no matter how shy they might be; and it
was Grigo's horn that would be first raised in
every toast in turn — to the house of Vasso, to
his wife and family, to his good fortune in the
new year, and to Vasso himself and all the guests
The musicians, too, sat at the table, and when
a pause came in the feasting they would strike
up a hvely tune and the guests would join in
a merry song. Sometimes a guest would rise from
his seat and dance as had the first.
44 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
At last the table was emptied. The little piles
of salt and the steaming heaps of corn-meal
mush stuffed with melting hunks of cheese that
stood on the bare boards between each pair of
guests had dwindled and disappeared. A little
gravy specked with flakes of red pepper was all
that remained of the heaping bowls of tsutsivi,
and of the great pig, the stripped bones alone
Then it was that Grigo, the Head of the Table,
took up the batchL Drawing his sharp knife from
its sheath at his belt, he carved and passed to each
guest a morsel of gristly meat from the shoulder.
When the last one had been served Grigo raised
the big shovel-shaped bone high in his strong
right hand and brought it smashing down on the
knuckles of his left with a blow that shattered
it into a dozen pieces. It was a custom, and turn-
ing to Vasso he said, "Long life to the padrone
(master) of this house! Glory to his bread and
salt and may he crush his evils as I have crushed
As Grigo was finishing this last toast his son
Vanno beckoned Gogi to his side and whispered,
'*Bring my wrestling shirt from the corner of your
kitchen where I left it."
THE NEW YEAR FEAST 45
When Gogi returned with the wrestling shirt
or coat, Vanno stood ready for the match. Oppo-
site him stood another young man who was per-
haps a few years older but about the same weight.
Both were barefooted and stripped to the waist.
As Gogi approached he unrolled the coat. It was
very much like a rough woolen dressing gown
from which the sleeves had been ripped, and the
back of which had been slit from the bottom up
to the belt.
Vanno slipped his muscular bare arms through
the holes of the garment, and as he fastened the
front with leather laces he cried to Gogi, "Tie the
knot with a lucky hand, Gogi; tie the knot!"
Gogi knew what was expected of him, although
he had never done it before. He lifted the split
skirts of the coat and tied them in a firm knot
at Vanno's waist. "The fortune and blessing oJ^
White Georgi be with you, Vanno!" he cried,
as he completed his task and stepped back into
the ring of guests that stood awaiting the match.
The ever-present musicians began a merry
tune. Vanno and his opponent began to circle one
another in a sort of dance. They lifted their feet
high from the ground as they pranced and leaped
to the music of the pipe and drum. Now and then
46 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
one or the other would stoop as he danced and
rub the palms of his hands in the dirt of the yard.
This was to give them a better grip with no fear
of slipping when the real battle began.
"They are like a couple of roosters/' thought
Gogi, as he watched the two wrestlers circle and
stoop ; "and the loose ends of their wrestling coats
stick out behind as do the tails of roosters."
"They have a hold," sTiouted an excited voice.
As though tired of playing about the wrestlers
had at last grappled. Each had grasped the other
by the loose breast folds of the wool coats with
one hand, while they fought to catch the tail-hke
knot in the other.
Back and forth they strained. Their bare arms
and foreheads became moist with little drops of
sweat that gathered and streamed down their hot
faces in trickles. The music still played but their
feet no longer danced; they seemed rather to be
glued to the earth. Their heads were pressed to-
gether like two fighting rams, and their breath
came in little sobs and sucks.
Gogi watched the wide-spread feet of Vanno.
As he watched, one foot crept slowly backward;
Vanno 's head twisted to one side and with a quick
swing his free right arm shot over the youth's
THE NEW YEAR FEAST 47
shoulder and clutched his knotted coat. The rear
foot shot forward to strike his opponent's stiff
knee ; a grunt, a mighty heave, and Vanno stood,
hand raised in victory, over the prone form of
There was a moment's pause and then the
watchers shouted in one voice, "Glory to the vic-
tor — life to Vanno, the son of Grigo!" Hands be-
gan to clap; the music played still louder, and
Vanno danced again. This time it was the dance
of the victor. "This, too, is like the roosters,"
thought Gogi, and he was very happy that his
own friend had won the match. He was even
happier when Vanno had finished his dance, for
the smith's son came straight to his side and
kissed him thrice on the cheek.
"Life to the hand that tied the knot of my
wrestling coat," said he. "Thanks to you, Gogi-
"Not to me be thanks," answered Gogi in a
happy voice. "But to my Holy Namesake to
Whom I prayed — thanks be to White St. Georgi,
So passed the Feast of St. Basil, and as eve-
ning came on the guests began to depart in one's
and two's for their homes. Those who lived far-
48 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
thest left first, and Nina and Keto were kept busy-
in preparing for each one a lunch for the road.
On long spears of wood were stuck lumps of
bread and slices of meat, a round pat of cheese
or perhaps an apple or pomegranate. Each de-
parting guest rode up on his horse to bid fare-
well and receive his lunch. The remaining men
admired and criticised each horse in turn and
fingered the long steel bits and the silver-medal-
lioned bridles before the rider galloped away with
a flourish and a shouted good-bye, accompanied
by a fusillade of pistol shots and wishes for a
Night found Gogi again in his bed and Vasso,
Uncle Kola, and the natlia seated at the table.
fUncle Kola again thrummed the strings of his
guitar and hummed a little tune. Vasso and the
natlia-mama spoke in low tones and Gogi dreamed
— dreamed not of the day to come, but of the
day that had gone ; of the dancing and the songs ;
of the prancing horses and shiny high saddles and
jingling bits; and best of all, he dreamed of the
wrestling match and Vanno, the smith's son, as
he stood over hii§ beaten opponent.
The Feast of the Baptism
The Tale of the Khevsours
NE morning in January Vasso did not rise
from his seat at the broad kitchen table on finish-
ing his breakfast. Instead, he leaned back against
the wall and casually rolled a stubby funnel-
shaped cigarette from coarse tobacco, meanwhile
motioning Keto to bring him a coal from the open
Long blue spirals ascended from the burning
tip of Vasso's cigarette and, blending with the
smoke clouds from the kitchen fire, floated out
into the morning air through the round opening
in the kitchen ceiling. It was the Feast of the
50 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
Baptism, and Vasso, banishing all thoughts of
work, sat lazily watching his wife and daughter
at their daily chores. The baby, as usual, slept.
Gogi was not at home; he had set out in the
first early light for the church at Ozerget to be
at the "Blessing of the Water." While Nina and
Keto busied themselves in the kitchen and Vasso
sat and smoked, Gogi stood with a throng of
friends and kinsmen on the bank of the little
stream that flowed beside the old stone church in
Nearest the stream stood the bent old priest,
surrounded by deacons and singers. After a long
chant in which priest, deacons, and choir partici-
pated, the old priest raised his wrinkled hands
aloft and blessed the water in the name of the
Holy Trinity. From the hands of a deacon he
received a silver cross, and after this, too, had
been blessed he recalled in a few words Christ's
baptism at the hands of John the Baptist, and
cast the cross into the water with a gentle splash.
Irmnediately all was excitement ; a dozen young
men cast themselves, clothed as they were, into
the chilly stream, seeking the cross. First a dea-
con filled a huge silver bowl with the blessed
FEAST OF BAPTISM 51
water; then, group by group, the villagers ap-
proached the brook and filled the jars and flasks
with which they had prepared themselves.
It was held by many that this water had the
power of healing; such water could be kept for
years without losing its sweetness or becoming
murky. What better proof of its good properties
could be desired?
When all had amply supplied themselves with
holy water they fell in line behind the priest to be
led in song and prayer from the brook to the
church. With lighted candles and swinging cen-
sers the procession moved along; at every step
the aged priest blessed his flock and, dipping a
little broom of hyssop into the deacon's huge
bowl, sprinkled them all with tiny drops of holy
When the procession disbanded at the church
Gogi did not tarry with the scattered groups that
remained about the door to jest and gossip.
Tying together the long necks of his several
earthen jars of holy water, he slung them care-
fully over his shoulder and set out for home with
the long swinging stride of the hill people.
As Gogi neared home his store of water be-
52 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
came smaller and smaller, for at gate after gate
he was greeted by some neighbor who had been
unable to attend the Blessing of the Water, but
who craved a few drops of the holy liquid. Gogi
gladly parted with a small share to each that asked
and as gladly pocketed the occasional coppers
they offered with their thanks. By the time he
joined his parents and sister in the kitchen he had
disposed of almost all of his water; only one small
jug remained and this he gave to his mother, who
received it with a devout sign of the cross.
Gogi seated himself at the table and Keto set
before him his share of the breakfast. As he ate,
his father inquired after the health of his kins-
men and friends whom Gogi had seen at the
The boy had something to tell of each. To his
father's inquiry concerning the priest's visits to
the parishioners' homes (an event which follows
the Blessing of the Water) , Gogi rephed that the
good man would travel first on the Lantchout
road. Nina then knew that the priest would be
with them soon after midday and that there would
be no need to make ready for him a special meal.
One large hen, broiled, would be enough.
FEAST OF BAPTISM 53
True to Nina's forecast the shadows had just
begun to lengthen when the priest and his at-
tendant deacon appeared at the bend of the road.
Sharp-eyed Keto, as always, saw them first and
ran excitedly screaming the news to her mother.
They were ahorse, and the priest rode first,
hands folded on the high pommel and the long
skirts of his heavy woolen cassock gathered about
his legs to free his feet. A few paces to the rear
rode the gloomy deacon in a worn tchokka; under
one arm he held a bulky bundle wrapped in white
linen. They slackened their pace as they turned
into the yard, and Gogi raced forward to grasp
the reins of their horses.
The reverend couple halted before the stoop
and before dismounting the priest raised his hands
and blessed the smiling family that stood on the
porch to greet him.
This little ceremony observed, the priest
climbed from his pony and, shaking out the folds
of his cassock, allowed himself to be ushered into
the house by the bowing family. The deacon, after
turning the mounts over to Gogi's care, followed
his superior and received his share of the bowing
and hand shaking.
54 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
Once in the house the group made their way to
the large front room, in the corner of which the
family's holy pictures or icons hung, lighted by
the feeble flicker of a tiny scarlet rushhght. The
priest donned a gold-embroidered surplice which
the deacon produced from his white bundle, fixed
his gaze on the burning icon, and began to gesture
Meanwhile the deacon took his silver bowl from
the bundle, also, and placed it on a little table
which Nina had covered with a spotless white
coverlet. He then poured into the bowl a few drops
of the precious holy water which Gogi had that
morning brought from the church brook after the
Blessing, and lighting several tiny wax tapers,
gave one to each of the family except baby Morro,
who lay quietly watching them from her little
His prayer completed, the priest motioned to
the deacon to take up the bowl of water. Then
followed a service just like the one at the brook-
side church. Priest and deacon, followed by the
family, walked slowly from room to room carry-
ing burning tapers. The deacon chanted in a great
deep voice and the priest, dipping his little broom
FEAST OF BAPTISM 55
of hyssop into the bowl, sprinkled the corners,
doorposts, and floor of the little home with holy
water and blessings.
Baby Morro came in for a good share of both
blessings and water, and both seemed to please
her, for she cooed happily and caught at the little
droplets with one free hand.
Nor were the blessings confined to the house.
Barnyard and cattle sheds, chicken house, kitchen,
and beehives were all blessed and sprinkled before
the good priest became content. At last, however,
the round was made and the group reentered the
house, where Nina had spread a table with food.
Here the priest mumbled a last prayer, and
with a sign of the cross that took in the whole table
and company, he sat down to meat.
' The priest and his assistant had eaten at an
earlier stop so their hunger was soon satisfied,
but the good men were tired and Vasso was a
man to whom everyone hked to talk. Keto's shy-
ness wore off after a while and, reassured by the
smile of the old priest, she searched beneath the
felt mattress of her takhta and brought out the
book of pictures which the natlia had given her at
the Feast of St. Basil.
56 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"What is this?" asked the priest, as he took
the book from her outstretched hand.
"It is a book of tales which the Frankish chil-
dren read," replied Keto. "The words are in the
letters of the foreigners but the pictures are col-
ored and very beautiful to see. Little Father."
The priest took a pair of spectacles with square
glasses from the lining of his fur hat, and adjust-
ing them on the end of his long red nose, he opened
the painted covers of the Frankish story book.
"It is a shame that such good paper should be
used for tales," grumbled the old man. "It is thick
and glossy and as smooth as glass."
He turned several pages and paused at the
picture of a gnome. "Who is this little hunch-
back?" he inquired with a frown.
In a few words Keto repeated the tale of the
gnome as the natlia had told it to her.
"The tale is a good one," agreed the priest,
"but the man has an evil look."
The priest turned a few more pages and came
to the bright picture of a knight in armor. The
knight was mounted on a snow-white horse, and
the shield which he carried on his arm and the flag
on the haft of his long spear were marked with
the sign of the cross.
FEAST OF BAPTISM 57
"The good man's wrinkled old face broke into
a pleased smile as he admired the brave picture.
"Surely," said he, "this good knight is a Defender
of the Faith! What other would carry the holy
sign of our Lord?"
"It is the king of the Inglisi/' said Keto. "I
know the tale. He was called Levis-gulij the Lion-
hearted, and he fought for the Holy Sepulchre."
"Aye," said the priest, "I have heard of him;
and who has not, for excepting our own White
Georgi there was none greater than he unless
it was perhaps Gurg-Arslan — the Wolf-Lion of
"Did White Georgi fight for the Holy Sepul-
chre?" inquired Gogi. "Our Gurian bowmen
fought with the Saracens, did they not, Little
"There were no longer bows than ours drawn
against the infidels," said the priest proudly. "Our
Gurian arrows were so big that a young pig could
be roasted on one; but White Georgi had been
in heaven many years at that time. In heaven to
greet our Gurian bowmen, for few returned from
that last Holy War."
"But were not the Khevsuri who live on the
steep mountain slopes of Svaneti Defenders of
58 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
the Faith?" asked Vasso, who had traveled over
all Georgia and knew many strange places.
"Yes," assented the priest. "The Khevsuri were
Carriers of the Cross, but they are not Georgians."
"Who are the Khevsuri," asked Gogi, who was
always eager to learn of new things.
"The Khevsuri are flaxen-haired and have
square heads," explained the Little Father.
"They are not like our raven-haired, round-
headed Georgians, for they are foreigners. Their
people are the Germani, and the fathers of our
Khevsuri were Carriers of the Cross who, return-
ing from the Holy War by the road through our
country, met with so many hardships that they
despaired of ever again seeing their homeland.
With the Georgians they found a warm Chris-
tian welcome and bread and salt."
"But they do not live with us," wondered Keto.
"Why do they live high in the mountains where
there is much cold and little to eat when they
might be happier on warm lower slopes?"
The old priest frowned as though the question
puzzled him. "Who can say the thoughts of Ger-
mani?" he replied. "They are not Georgians, for
they do not speak our tongue nor do they drink
our wine. They have their own priests and their
FEAST OF BAPTISM 59
own churches high in the mountains. The paths
to them would try the skill of our sure-footed
Gurian hillmen. Their very fields are so steep that
when they harvest their wheat, which grows no
higher than sheep's grass, they are forced to tie
themselves with ropes to get a footing."
"Do their priests bless them and their houses
as you have ours this feast day?" asked Gogi,
wanting to learn still more of his strange neigh-
''I fear they do not," responded the priest with
a sigh. "They have lost many of their Christian
ways in the high mountains. On feast days they
bring out the old armor which has been handed
down from father to son and, donning it, they
fight with sword and spear as did their forefathers
at the side of the brave king of the Inglisi"
"Oh!" cried Gogi excitedly. "They still have
their old swords? And do they hurt one another?"
"They sometimes hurt one another very badly,"
said the priest with a sad shake of his gray head.
"And they still have their fathers' old swords and
shields. This is true because the weapons are
marked with tiny crosses and half -moons stamped
in the rusty steel. Each tiny cross means that
some good Christian owned the sword or shield.
60 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
and each half -moon shows that it was in the hands
of an infidel."
"I see," said Gogi. "If a sword has three half-
moons and four crosses it shows that it belonged
at different times to three infidels and four Chris-
"You are right," said the Little Father, and
closing the story book with a start, as though he
had just remembered how long he had tarried in
one house, he rose to go.
Amid farewells the priest and his deacon
mounted their horses, which Gogi had brought
to the bottom of the steps. As they trotted through
the gate and down the road Gogi turned and
gazed up at the ice-capped peaks of the towering
"They fight with sword and spear like their
fathers did at the side of the Lion-hearted! The
Carriers of the Cross are still alive," thought he.
"And they in our own mountains!"
The rays of the setting sun flashed back from
the snowclad ridges, and to Gogi they were the
flashing swords and shields and spearheads of
Saracens and Carriers of the Cross. To him it
seemed that he heard the angry thudding of their
war horses' mad feet and the resounding blows
FEAST OF BAPTISM 61
of sword on shield. But it was only the drumming
of Nina's katok as she rolled the wrinkles from
her store of fresh- washed linen, and the ringing
strokes of Vasso's heavy ax as he split the wood
for the kitchen fire.
A Trip to the Village Smithy
HE time came when passing neighbors always
spoke of plowing. If they were driving carts one
was almost certain to see the long handles of a
plow jutting out beyond the tailboard like a huge
pair of horns. They would be taking their plows
to Grigo, the smith, for sharpening or, what is
more Ukely, to be fitted with new irons.
One day a passing villager from the upper val-
ley stopped before the gate to rest and to tell
A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 63
Vasso that it was now his turn at the smithy.
Grigo expected him and his work with the rising
sun. As the dusty traveler refreshed himself with
a great gourd dipper of red wine which Nina had
hastened to bring him, he told of meeting others
at the smithy — of what they each had said, how
many hsevs of corn and how much tobacco they
hoped to plant, and whether the rains would kill
the silkworms. And Gogi, standing with his hands
folded respectfully across his stomach, listened
with dehght and thought of the morrow.
Just as the first glow of dawn began to fringe
the jagged black mountain wall with silver a
voice called out and Gogi crept sleepily from his
warm couch. He shivered a little as he stood half
dozing, for the draft that filtered up through the
cracks of the rough floor boards was still uncom-
fortably sharp with the chill of night. He groped
about him in search of his clothing and when
questing fingers grasped the soft, smooth silki-
ness of his holiday tchohha instead of the familiar
harsh wool of his everyday blouse he remembered
with a pleasant shock the reason for it, and all
thoughts of another little nap were at once for-
gotten. Grigo, the smith; Vanno, his son; the
64 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
forge, the buffaloes to be shod, and old friends to
be seen once again ! A great day, indeed !
Gogi was soon dressed and a moment later
slipped noiselessly through the door, across the
narrow porch, and down the steep steps. As he
passed the water koki^ he snatched it up to his lips
and took a big mouthful of its water, which he
spurted into his hands and splashed over his face
as he hastened toward the black barns. The yard
was shadowy in the gray half-light that comes be-
fore daybreak, and near the silent sheds the empty
bullock cart, with its pole and dangling yoke
pointed skyward, stood pale and ghostly like the
gaunt white skeleton of some strange beast.
A wheezy sigh and a slight rustle told Gogi
that the buffaloes slept in the deep shadow of the
wine press, and taking up a little stick, he urged
them grumblingly to their feet and drove them
with sharp prods and soft words in the direction
of the tilted cart. When the animals came under
the hanging yoke, Gogi halted them and mount-
ing the cart, clambered up the pole so that with
his added weight he forced it down in a wide curve
until a buffalo's neck was snugly caught in each
joke. The yoke on, Gogi lashed the ends of the
great forks fitted to either end of the wooden
A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 65
forks that reached below the loose folds of the
animals' neck with strips of raw-hide, and the
cart was ready for the road.
As Gogi made fast the last leather thong his
father descended the steps of the house, his saddle
swinging across his shoulder.
^'Ess ki sakmel ( Good work ) ," said Vasso, well
pleased at finding the cart and team ready and
waiting. And as he strode on toward the barn
he added: "Bring, now, the khurjhini from their
place in the kitchen."
Gogi, after first taking a short stout stick from
the front of the cart and placing it under the tip
of the pole so that its weight would be lifted from
the drowsing bullocks' necks, made his way across
the brightening yard to the little hut on the brook's
edge where food was stored and cooked. On a
convenient peg, driven into a chink of the log
wall, he found the khurjhini^ or saddlebags. Their
strong carpet sides, woven in gay colored pat-
terns, bulged out to the bursting point, and the
narrow strip of frayed leather that bound the
bags together stretched and creaked as Gogi lifted
them down onto his head.
The bags were far too heavy and bulky for
Vasso's saddle, so Gogi slung them by their strap
66 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
over the slatted side of the cart. He then took
the stick from beneath the pole and led the team
to the yawning black door of the barn. From the
inner darkness came the sound of clanking bit
and stirrups and the occasional duckings of Vasso
to quiet the impatient pony. Presently Gogi's
father emerged, leading the saddled horse. He
threw the loose reins over the big wooden tholepin
that held the yoke to the pole of the cart and,
calling to Gogi, turned back to where the awk-
ward wooden plow leaned against the wall of the
bam. Together, father and son, they dragged it
from its place and loaded it upon the waiting
Gogi, after hunting about a bit, found a flat
splinter of wood which he dipped into a ram's
horn filled with soft soap that hung by a loop to
the frame of the cart. With a liberal daub of
the horn's contents on the end of his chip, he
crawled under the cart and freely smeared the
smooth wooden axle with the slimy, greasy mess.
Georgian carts have their solid wooden wheels
fixed fast to large strong axles which turn in a
half-round nest on the bottom of the body, and
if the axle were not well covered with soap or
something similar it would soon grow very hot
A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 67
and might, perhaps, even burst into flames. At
the very least, it would rapidly wear away under
the heavy loads it is called upon to carry.
AU was now ready for the trip and Vasso, lifting
the reins from the tholepin, mounted .his shaggy,
slim-legged pony. He looked very grand as he
rode for the gate, seated erectly on the fat leather
cushion of his high Circassian saddle. The pony
arched his neck and swerved as his thudding feet
beat an impatient tattoo on the soft dirt path.
As Vasso waved his quirt in a last signal for the
start Gogi turned to his ugly, workaday steeds
with something almost like a sigh, for he, too,
yearned for a prancing, dashing pony, a tall black
saddle with pearl studs, and a red tasseled saddle
pad of brilliant felt.
"Still," thought he, "it is not given to every-
body to drive so fine a yoke of buffaloes as ours
are!" And with that he perched himself atop the
broad timber of the great yoke. "Ho, Rustam!
Ho, Nazira!" he shouted in a voice as much like
Vasso's as he could make it. "Come along, my
darlings, come along," he urged, and gave each
a resounding whack with a thin switch he car-
Now a little twig such as this could never sting
68 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
the tough and almost hairless hide of a water
buffalo, but both the great coal-black beasts
grumbled and complained loudly and made their
strange blue-gray eyes appear very fierce and
terrible. This, however, is just a way that water
buffaloes have, and they lumbered off, with much
pawing of their feet and shaking of their sharp
black horns, dragging the creaking cart behind
them. Gogi sat between the two black heads, feet
dangling, and sang a song as he swayed to the
steady swing of his team.
"Ho h la, ho h la.
Ho ^h la, ho h."
Gogi's song would not have been much of a
song in a town or city. It had very few notes and
no words at all, but it sounded well to Gogi and
the buffaloes seemed to like it. It might, in fact,
have pleased anyone who chanced to hear it on
that clear cool morning silence, for as he sang a
note it echoed and reechoed from the hills and
woods until there was something very much hke
a whole choir singing "hoh-la, hoh-la" in all sorts
of wonderful combinations, to which the cart
played a creaky, fluty accompaniment.
A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 69
The road to the smithy stretched downhill and
the wooden yoke, slipping forward, rested on the
strong horns of the two buffaloes. They threw
their heads back to take the strain and held their
necks so low that a stranger would have expected
their end any minute. This, again, was just the
buffaloes' strange way of doing things, for going
downhill at a slow walk was exactly what they
liked to do. They did not mind hard work, either,
and never balked if they were not thirsty or did
not chance to get the silly notion of taking a mud
bath. Water buffaloes are very fond of baths, and
when they are very tired they sometimes balk
and demand a nice bath of cool mud. To-day,
however, they were neither tired nor hot, so they
trudged patiently along the road to Grigo and
his smithy. No motorcycles dashed sputteringly
by, and no motor cars passed to crowd them into
the roadside ditches or fill their blue eyes and
moist noses with blinding, stifling dust. In truth,
the only really unpleasant thing that can happen
to a water buffalo in Georgia is a visit to the shoe-
ing smith, and they did not know, as yet, that
they were booked for one.
One verst, two versts, four versts of the rutted
clay road crawled beneath the bouncing, rattling
70 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
cart before the latter topped a little crest and
Gogi caught his first glimpse of the familiar
smithy in the valley below. Excited with its near-
ness, he jumped down from his swaying seat and
urged his team forward with a renewed zeal. But
the lumbering pair refused to quicken their mea-
sured, shambling pace.
Vasso had ridden rapidly ahead, and Gogi
fancied that he could pick his father's horse from
among the jostling group that stood about Grigo's
long hitching rack. Never had buffaloes seemed so
slow. The last quarter verst seemed longer than
the first two, but it, too, passed, and Gogi brought
his team to a willing halt before the smithy door
Vanno appeared from the sooty depths of his
father's shop, and after giving Gogi a bearlike
embrace and warm greeting, took a grimy hand
in unyoking the team. Having recognized the
smithy for what it was, the buffaloes were becom-
ing disturbed, and Vanno with all his wrestler's
strength was scarcely able to drag them to the
When the animals were safely tied the two boys
entered the smithy. Full in the light of the open
double doors stood Grigo's slender, sharp-pointed
A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 71
anvil. It was driven into a huge block of walnut
wood, and a little to one side a heavy slab of iron
rested on another, smaller block. This second
anvil was the one used in flattening the thin iron
plates with which buffaloes were shod.
Behind the anvils, but within an easy pace of
them, stood the forge, with a hood of iron to
catch the smoke and sparks. In the gloom of
the smithy its smoldering charcoal embers
gleamed like the cheerful red eye of some friendly
demon. Slung fast to the rafters above the forge
hung the giant leather bellows, and a long, seamy
leather hose, like an elephant's wrinkled trunk,
curled snakily down from its smaller end to feed
the fire with air.
When Gogi's eyes had become accustomed to
the murkiness he was able to recognize the black-
smith and his father, Vasso, among a group in
the farther corner. A half dozen men, some on
their saddles and some on their own heels, sat
in a close circle about a disused anvil block. On
the block's broad flat top were scattered great
hunks of corn bread, juicy slices of fresh cheese,
and fragments of roasted chicken. On the dirt
floor at Grigo's side stood a brown clay kokL It
was filled, no doubt, with wine, for even as Gogi
7e NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
looked the smith lifted the slim-necked jar and
filled from it a shiny black drinking horn which
he passed with a salute and a reverent "God
given" to his nearest neighbor.
No place was made at the makeshift table
for young Gogi, but he was met with friendly
greeting by friend and stranger alike, and Grigo's
horny but hospitable hand passed him a hberal
helping from the pile of food. Vanno, after his
first friendly embrace, seemed to think that he
had fully repaid his young friend for his warm
support and admiration at the last New Year's
wrestling match. His sixteen years and big mus-
cles gave him a place with his elders which he
hastened to resume.
Gogi, left to his own devices, wandered about
the shop, gazing interestedly at the sprawling
piles of newly forged hoes and mattocks and
timidly fingering the smooth handles of Grigo's
hammers and tongs. He placed his thick shce
of cheese on the forge fire to toast, and even gave
the bellows rope a few timid jerks to blow the
fire. When a few sparks flew crackling up he
became bolder and pulled harder. More sparks
crackled and flew, and then there came a little
spurt of yellow flame. It was Gogi's forgotten
A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 73
slice of cheese. He rescued it from the fiery fur-
nace and proudly ate it, although there was little
left after he had scraped the char from it.
The men finished their meal and arose, wiping
the food crumbs from their long mustachios with
the backs of their hands. Some moved across to
choose new hoes, mattocks, and spades from the
piles on the floor. One small knot of curious ones
collected about an American all-metal plow that
awaited repairs. They loudly praised its graceful
curves and gay red paint and exclaimed in sur-
prise at its unexpected light weight. With all
its breadth of keen steel share and its metal frame
it was still far lighter than the native wooden tools.
These are made by the Georgian farmer and are
little more than a crooked stick shod with a point
Meanwhile Grigo and Vanno had thrown the
resisting buffaloes to the ground and lashed their
feet to two long poles, each end of which rested
in the waist-high crotch of a forked stick driven
into the earth. Buffaloes are very agile kickers,
and as they greatly dislike being shod, they must
be well tied.
Father and son took each an animal, and in a
trice the old shoe plates, thin as paper, were
74 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
ripped off. Since the feet were turned up in so
convenient a position it took very little time to
file a smooth surface and firmly nail a new half-
circle of iron plate to each half of a cloven hoof.
Released from their uncomfortable position,
when the job was completed, the buffaloes seemed
to know that their misery was over. They stood
with hanging heads and docile as lambs.
Vasso, like most Georgians, had some skill in
all trades, and when Gogi led the fresh-shod team
back to the cart he found that his father had al-
ready fitted a plow iron without the smith's help.
The plow was again in the cart, and beside it
was a small pile of newly bought spades, mat-
tocks, and hoes. Vasso's horse was gone from the
rack and his saddle from the smithy. Vasso had
returned, and Gogi was very proud that his father
had trusted him to oversee the shoeing and find
his own way home.
Gogi wished that he might ask Vanno to show
him some wrestling holds and trick falls, but a
glance at the long line of animals waiting to be
shod told him that the smith's son would have
little time for such talk.
As the rumbling cart and its small driver passed
the smithy the smith dropped his task to wave
A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 75
his gnarled hand in a cheery good-bye, and as
Gogi turned out into the road he felt a touch on
his arm. It was Vanno, and giving Gogi a hand
clasp that nearly crushed the younger boy's fin-
gers, the smith's son said :
"Surely we shall meet at the Easter wrestling
and you shall tie my wrestling coat, for your hand
brings luck. May your troubles be mine. Fare-
With these words Gogi received a mighty clout
on his shoulder and he heard something fall clank-
ing into his cart as Vanno turned and disappeared
in the gloom of his father's shop. Gogi pulled
the ^'something" out. It was a real steel trap for
catching wild animals — one such as is to be bought
in the shops of the cities — and Vanno had made
it with his own hand as a thank offering in return
for Gogi's admiration of his wrestling.
The buffaloes seemed to sense that they were
on their homeward journey, for although the
trail lay, for the most part, uphill they lumbered
along at a rapid pace. The yoke swayed so vio-
lently with their speed that it no longer served
as a comfortable seat for Gogi, so the boy trotted
along beside his team and cut at the dry road-
76 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
side weeds and grasses with the now unnecessary
As he trotted, Gogi sang a song. The echo an-
swered. The cart creaked its accompaniment and
the spades and mattocks made a merry jingUng.
"Ho ^h la, ho ^h la,
Ho ^hla,ho ^h!"
T WAS nearing midnight — Easter Eve.
High in the bell tower of the old stone church,
amid the knotted ends of the swinging bell ropes,
sat Shaliko Tomadze. Shaliko, bent and seventy,
was the bell ringer of the church of Ozerget, and
as he sat now on a ledge of the draf ty bell tower
and gazed with sad brown eyes through the nar-
row, slitlike window, the gentle spring breeze
stirred his sparse gray beard.
An old tin lantern dimly lighted the tower
78 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
room, and in its rays the ropes looked black and
strange. Their shadows writhed and squirmed on
the stone walls like great crawling serpents. The
night without was peaceful and the stars shone
brightly. The putt-putt of the pumping engine
at the water station was silent, and no sound broke
the stillness but the occasional creak of a cart or
rattle of hoofs as some belated worshiper arrived
at the door of the church.
Here and there, in the dark yard below, a torch
or smudge shed its smoky light. In the cover near
the hedge stood a tent of homemade tapestries,
and now and then a black figure entered bearing
an Easter cake or cheese tarts. Later they would
be blessed by the old priest.
Despite the fact that it was the eve of a great
feast day, ShaHko was bored because he had noth-
ing to do. But if someone had given him some-
thing to do he would have been still more dis-
satisfied, for he was lazy and loved only to talk
and tell tales. His laziness would have brought
him a death by starvation had not his wagging
tongue won such a large circle of friends. Indeed,
these friends had secured for him the post of bell
His face as a teller of tales actually brought
listeners up the dizzy steps to the tower room.
They were mostly boys, and Shaliko was usually
able to shift a fair share of his bell pulling onto
"A miserable hour," grumbled Shahko to him-
self, frowning at the sputtering lamp. "Not one
comes! When no one wants them they all come!"
After a little while, however, Shaliko heard the
murmuring of voices and stifled giggles on the
ladder that led to the tower room, and soon after
a round black head with laughing eyes popped
up through the trapdoor at ShaUko's side. One,
then another and another, until three young lads
stood before the old bell ringer.
They were Gogi, Givi, and Aleko. After a
friendly greeting, all three spoke at one time and
told an exciting story of how Givi had nearly
fallen down the spiral stair as he stumbled in the
"You might well have made cheese of your
nose," said Shaliko, shaking his gray head. "Were
it not a feast day I would surely tell your father!"
"He has gone to the monastery," replied Givi
"It is a great night in the monastery, this
night," interrupted Aleko. "My uncle took me
80 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
there last Easter. At midnight a rocket is touched
off and they strike the great bell!"
"From where do they send the rocket ?" inquired
Gogi, who had not seen the monastery.
"They send it from the wall where the old iron
cannon stands," explained Aleko. "Shaliko
knows," he added.
"Aye, I know," agreed Shaliko, "for do I not
await that same rocket as a signal for my own
"Have you seen the iron cannon?" asked Givi.
"I have that," said the old bell ringer proudly.
"I have seen others, too, and fired from them."
"Were you in the war?"
"Of course," said Shaliko. "Tell me, pray,
where I have not been."
"The war is terrible, is it not, Shaliko?"
"There is nothing terrible," denied the old man.
"You get the order *fire' and you fire."
"But what if one were to be killed?" said Gogi
with a little shiver.
"Who?" demanded Shaliko.
"You, perhaps," answered Gogi.
"Those are foolish words," said Shaliko,
scowling. "Who could kill me?"
"The enemy," guessed Gogi.
"Bring on your enemy," shouted old Shaliko,
looking very fierce. "Their arms are too short.
Bring them on — I'll break all their bones!"
On receiving no answer to this challenge, he
fell silent for a while and then, as though ashamed
of shouting so on a holy day, he said firmly:
"Our Easter is better than the Easter of any
people ! In truth it is the feast of feasts and the
holiday of holidays."
The boys sat silent and listened.
"It is a crying shame," he continued, "that some
of our brothers should believe as they do. It is
a shame, but it is also funny," and Shaliko
chuckled in his beard. "It is not right and I fear
for them in the other world. I speak of the Tchout-
chki in Siberia. I saw them when I was a soldier.
"They are a silly folk. To kill a dog is great
fun for them. A dog is nothing, for they would
just as soon kill their own father. This they some-
times do, when their parents grow too old to hunt
for their own food and skins for clothing. All
this is because they do not fear their god. They
fear only (God forgive them) the goblins. They
even pray to the goblins."
The boys laughed.
"That is truth," insisted Shaliko. "^They be-
82 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
lieve that their god flew away into the sky and
from him they expect neither good nor evil. I
forget what they call him, but in our language
it means, 'The Old One.' "
"But why do they pray to the goblins?" asked
Gogi, fearing that the story had ended.
"They fear them and that is their faith," an-
swered Shaliko. "What can be done about it?
Our priest says that the first man was Adam;
their priests say that ten thousand 'Adams' were
made from clay — all at one time. They say that
all these 'Adams' stood for a hundred years on
a mountain. They stood on the same mountain,
in fact, from which their god flew away into the
sky. After a hundred years the god returned and
gave them life by blowing upon them. And then,
it is said, there came a great storm or whirlwind
which whisked all the 'Adams' up into the air
and dropped them, broad and far, over all the
earth. Those which fell upon the ground became
men. Others, which fell into trees and such-like,
became women. That is their idea of the beginning
Shaliko paused, shaking his head slowly and
clucking at the shame of it all.
"Our holiday is good — ^good for the soul, but
theirs . . .! True, it comes in the spring. In this,
alone, is it like ours. They become wild. They
slaughter whole herds of deer and feast and dance
like savages. They sing also, and their songs would
draw tears from the cold stone — ^nothing like our
own beautiful Easter Chant."
Here the old man glanced toward the window
just in time to see the last fading sparks left from
the fiery arc of the falling signal rocket. He leaped
to his feet, and as his trembling fingers were raised
in the sign of the cross the solemn stillness was
broken by the throaty clang of the great bell in
the distant monastery. Up from the churchyard
came a medley of laughter and noisy greetings.
"Christ is arisen," muttered the old bell ringer,
again and again, crossing himself, while, at the
same time, he watched the boys struggling to
start the clapper of the great bell. Each succeed-
ing swing brought the heavy tongue nearer and
nearer until it barely touched the thick bronze
rim of the tocsin. . . .
The walls trembled. The tin lamp rattled
against the stones, and the air was split with a
deafening, mighty note.
The worshipers filed out of the church with
bared heads and lighted tapers. The holy pictures
84 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
were brought out and the banners. The singers
emerged. The deacons followed, holding tall can-
dles, and then came the priest with his cross held
high. With song and prayer the congregation
began the march around the church, led by the
Shaliko ceased his mutterings and, casting aside
his fur hat, began to snatch at the tangle of bell
ropes. One he would pull with his right hand,
another with his left. Sometimes he would pull
with both at once. All the while, one foot was
placed solidly on the stone flags of the floor and
the other stamped on one end of a hinged board.
To the other end were tied the cords from the
smaller chimes, and as the board moved up and
down they rang together. Merry tinkles and
solemn clangs blended and floated out on the soft
As he worked Shaliko followed the course of
the marching throng, and as the procession, hav-
ing made a complete circle of the church, came
to a halt before the doors, the old man loosed his
hold on the bell ropes and signaled to the three
boys to do the same. Again the tower was silent^
excepting, perhaps, the last faint echoes in the
deep throat of the largest bell.
"Christ is arisen from the dead," came the trem-
bling accents of the aged priest, and hke an an-
swer the crowd surged and swayed and a hundred
tapers twinkled brightly.
"Christ is arisen," shouted the throng.
Each man, turning to his neighbor, embraced
him and kissed him three times and repeated:
"Christ is arisen."
"Verily is Christ arisen," came the joyous an-
Hands were waved. Bared heads bowed. Sha-
liko's heart overflowed with pleasure. He leaned
gazing down through the window slit, and in a
low voice followed the singing of the choir;
"Eternal life with death was bought."
The crowd hearkened with reverence, and the
three boys watched down from above. Dawn was
still many hours distant but to them it seemed
near, bright, joyous.
"Greetings, my children, greetings! Christ is
arisen!" cried the happy old bell ringer.
As each boy answered with "Verily is he arisen"
the old man kissed him thrice and gave him a
loving pinch for good measure.
"And now, to work again!" shouted Shaliko,
clapping his hands. "Come again some other day
86 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
and you shall hear of other strange things and
places. Perhaps of foreigners or the ships that
sail on the ocean. But now to work and finish our
task ! Swing the big bell. Swing it — Swing . ^ .
Swing . . . Swing!"
Keto Visits Batum
OGI was loading bundles and carpetbags
onto the bullock cart. The patient water buffaloes
stood side by side under the heavy wooden yoke,
their long black horns thrown back to take the
weight of the cart pole. Their blue gray eyes were
half closed and they thoughtfully chewed their
cuds and swept the buzzing flies away with lazy
swishes of their long tails.
88 NOAH*S GRANDCHILDREN
Flat on the floor of the cart sat Keto. As Gogi
passed up the bundles she stacked them beside
her. She was dressed in her best brown woolen
dress and over her head and shoulders was thrown
her black silk shawl. On her feet that peeped out
from under her long skirts were a pair of heel-
less brown toufli which Uncle Kola had brought
her on his last visit from Tiflis. Keto was going
on a journey.
"You are a lucky girl," said Gogi, as he handed
her the last of the parcels. "You are going to see
the sea and the iron road with its puffing engines.
If you watch from the window as you come into
Batum on the iron road you will see the big ships
that come from Ferenzi and from Ameriki, Per-
haps, if you are fortunate, you will even hear
them blow on their whistles, or dropping their
great iron hooks that hold them to the bottom
of the sea when they stop at Batum. I saw all
these things and more when I visited with the
natlia on the feast of St. Mary."
"She will see what she will see," said their
mother, who had come up as Gogi spoke. "Health
to our Keto-heart, for when she returns she will
have much work to do. Your father goes to buy
the eggs of the silkworms. Silkworms spell work
KETO VISITS BATUM 89
for little hands, for with baby Morro to watch, I
can help but little this year at the silk."
"I shall do it all," said Keto gladly. "I know
just how to care for them."
*'That," replied Nina, "is because I gave you
each year a few worms for your own. You thought
it was a game. It was, but it also taught you how
to keep the worms. It will be the same now; just
a game, but more worms will make it a bigger
"I shall get the food for them," promised Gogi,
"and we shall play the game together — Keto-
heart and I."
"Then you shall go with me to sell the silk
when it is ready," said Nina. "You shall go with
me to Tiflis."
'^Ahha!" shouted Vasso, and put an end to
plans for the Tiflis trip. "We must go or we shall
not reach Natonebi in time for the train. The iron
road does not wait for Gurian farmers and their
little girls, and I have no wish to spend a night
in waiting for it."
''Ahha! Tsadi!" cried Vasso to the dozing buf-
faloes. The big black beasts came to life, and dig-
ging their iron-shod feet into the soft earth, moved
90 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
off at a leisurely pace, dragging the creaking cart
''Vasha! Vasha! Hurrah! Hurrah!" shouted
"A good road to you!" cried Nina. "Do not
forget the cheese pie from the patilia, Keto-heartI
And take care not to crush it, for the natlia is
very fond of my cheese pies!"
"It is safe in my lap, deda-heart/^ answered
Keto, and she held the paper-wrapped pie aloft
in one hand while she waved a farewell with the
Vasso whistled shrilly to the buffaloes and now
and then he struck a laggard with a green switch
that he used to guide the team. Down, down,
always down, they traveled from the hills, and
before nightfall they came to the little village of
Natonebi, that stood at the side of the iron road.
Keto was left with the baggage in the tiny wait-
ing room of the little red brick station while her
father went to place his cart and team in the
yard of a kinsman who lived in the village.
Vasso soon returned and purchased two tickets
at the little barred window of the station agent's
office. Keto watched the agent stamp the date
KETO VISITS BATUM 91
on them with a great bang and wondered that
he didn't smash his fingers in the big machine.
A large gong in the corner of the room began
to clang. The agent came from his office and,
going to the corner of the room, pulled a long
iron bar fitted with bright brass rings from a tall
red stand. When the bar was out of the rack
the agent turned a little crank and the gong rang
"The train wiU soon arrive," said Keto's father.
"The gong is a signal from the next station up
the line to say that it has left there."
"But what is the iron bar that the man took
out?" asked Keto.
"That," said her father, "is a hollow pipe, and
when the engine driver gets it from the station
agent at a station he knows that no other train
can get on the track before him until he reaches
the next station. The man here could not get the
pipe out if the agent at the next station had not
seen that the road was clear and unlocked the
rack here in the corner by electricity from his own
station far away. The orders for the conductor
are put in the hollow of the pipe."
The train puffed into the station and came to
92 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
a stop with a shriek of brakes. The station agent
emerged from his cubbyhole and struck a large
bell that hung on the station platform. The con-
ductor took from the agent the hollow pipe and
gave in return the one he had received at the
last stop. The agent glanced at his watch and
struck the bell twice.
"Hurry," said Vasso to his daughter. "That is
the second bell!"
Loaded with knots and bundles, Keto and her
father climbed into a little four-wheeled coach
and settled themselves on the hard wooden bench
in one of its several compartments. Outside, the
agent gave three strokes to the bell.
The engine gave a shrill toot of the whistle and
the train moved.
For a while the train traveled through deep
cuts; the mountains crowded close on the right,
and to the left soft rolling hills swallowed up the
sinking sun. Before it became quite dark the
mountains began to drop farther and farther back
and the rolling hills leveled out into the early
green of spring wheat and black plowed fields
that awaited the first warm day to send up the
fresh shoots of the young cotton and brown beans.
Night came and still they had not reached their
KETO VISITS BATUM ^S
destination. "We shall not see the sea," sighed
Keto disappointedly. "It is too dark."
"It will not be too dark to see the sea," her
father reassured her. "It will be more wonderful
than at any other time. You will see it by the
With a long blast on the whistle the train rushed
into the black mouth of a short tunnel. Keto,
frightened by the roaring of the wind and the
thundering echoes, clung close to her father's
The train rushed out of the tunnel as quickly
as it had entered it, and everything seemed sud-
denly and strangely still. "Look!" said Vasso.
He pointed a finger through the window. "The
"The sea! The sea!" exclaimed Keto with won-
der. Shading her eyes with her two hands from
the lantern that hung above their heads, she
pressed her nose flat against the window.
They seemed to be racing over the waves, the
track was so near the lapping water.
"But it is not black!" said the astonished Keto.
"Why is it called the Black Sea? It is silver and
all the edge is trimmed with lace."
"It is the moon that makes it silver," explained
94 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
her father. "And the lace that you see is made
by the waves that shatter themselves on the rocky
shore. The Black Sea is not really black; it is
a beautiful dark blue. When a storm is brewing,
as often happens on this sea, the blue becomes
so dark that it appears to be quite black. And that
is where it gets its name — ^the Black Sea."
Keto did not have long to admire the silvery
sea. The train roared into the midst of a per-
fect forest of huge iron tanks. "What are these
great round buildings?" inquired Keto, who had
not ceased gazing through the window into the
"Those," said Vasso, "are the reservoirs that
store the nafti which we burn in our oil lamps.
It is brought to Batum all the way through our
Caucasus Mountains by great iron pipes, and
here it is pumped into the ocean ships that carry
it to far places where it is not found."
"Is it found in our mountains?" asked Keto.
"It is found in many places in our land," said
Vasso proudly. "Most of it comes from Baku on
the Caspian Sea. Hundreds of years before man
had learned to use it in lamps and motors it used
to bubble up through the cracks in the dry desert
earth in those parts, and in many places it burned
KETO VISITS BATUM 95
and smoked for ages. The ancient people came
from thousands of miles to kneel and worship at
these Fountains of Fire ; they counted them holy
and often made human sacrifices on great stone
altars, the stones of which still remain. Of this
you have read in your book of Arabian Nights."
Vasso arose as he uttered the last words, for
the train was drawing into the station of Batum.
He lifted the baggage down from the overhead
racks, and dividing the burdens with Keto, he led
the way out onto the brilliantly lighted platform
of the railway station.
"It was a long ride," said Keto, *'but I enjoyed
"Not so long a ride," said her father, "as when
I was a boy. There was no iron road in those days
and Batum was four * journeys' from our home
at Ozerget with the fastest oxen."
No sooner had they clambered from their car
than they were surrounded by a chattering, scram-
bling mob of ragged barefoot men with queer
three-cornered pillows of woven straw strapped
to their backs by loops that encircled their stoop-
ing shoulders. Each one tried his best to grab
some part of their baggage, while all the time
they swore and struck at one another.
96 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
Keto was quite frightened, but Vasso laughed
loudly and, giving all their parcels to one of
the largest, drove the others away with a sharp
word and a sweep of his long arm. "Do not be
frightened, Keto-heart," said he, still laughing.
"That is their queer way. They seem about to
cut each other's throats, but they are really the
best of friends and comrades."
When the man, who was a Kurd porter, leaned
forward, the straw pillow fitted into the small
of his back and formed a broad flat surface. He
growled something in his own language and sev-
eral of the others came near and stacked the
bundles on his bent back. As Vasso had said, they
were not angry at all. They even gave their lucky
mate a few joking digs in the ribs as they loaded
him and a friendly shove at the back of his bob-
bing head as he moved off in the wake of Vasso
To tired little Keto it seemed that they walked
for miles. The hard round cobbles of the stone-
paved streets bruised the soles of her feet, which
were more accustomed to the naked earth. Her
legs ached and throbbed from walking on the
level flatness so unlike the hilly slopes of her
home. She had almost made up her mind to beg
KETO VISITS BATUM 97
her father for a short rest when Vasso halted at
the iron-shuttered door of one of the tall brick and
red stone houses that lined the streets. The Kurd
porter also halted and stood, his pile of bundles
teetering on his pillowed back. Vasso pulled the
bell rope that hung beside the door. A muffled
jangle of a bell in the depths of the yard brought
footsteps hurrying across the cobbles of the walled
"Who is there?" asked a voice beyond the
"Tchwenia, your own," answered Vasso, and
with the scrape of drawn bolts the door was
"Victory to thee and thine, Vasso," mumbled
the aged Kurd watchman, who recognized the
caller. "The master expects thee." And taking
a share of the baggage from the porter, the watch-
man left the remainder for a second trip, and
closing the door with a great rattle, he led the
guests across the dim square of the silent yard.
They followed the old Kurd through a short
passage and, entering a door which he threw open,
they saw the natlia hastening to meet them.
"With bread and salt, Vasso! With bread and
98 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
salt, Keto!" he greeted them. "Welcome to my
When the men had embraced Keto dropped
a stiff little curtsey and the natlia kissed her cheek.
Nor were these all the greetings. Keto heard a
familiar voice at her shoulder: * 'Health, Keto-
"You, Vanno?" she exclaimed in surprise.
"I, in truth," smilingly answered the black-
smith's stalwart son.
"What brings you here?" begged the still as-
"Have you not heard?" It was Vanno's turn
to be surprised. "Your natlia has given me work
in his station. I am learning to run the great en-
gines that pump the naft from the tanks on the
shore into the waiting ocean ships."
"And have you seen the ships?" demanded
"I have seen many ships," declared Vanno
proudly. "And to-morrow you shall see them also.
The natlia has given me a holiday so that I may
go with you and show to you the wonders of
Keto danced with dehght.
"But now to bed," warned the natlia when she
KETO VISITS BATUM 99
would have thanked him. "To-morrow will be
a long day and you have traveled far."
Here it was Keto remembered the parcel for
the natlia, and placing it in his hand she again
curtsied and said, "Deda sends her greetings and
wishes you long life."
The natlia lifted the package to his nose.
"Mmmmm!" said he, smacking his lips. "Cheese
pie ! Health to the hands that made it and to those
which have brought it! To-morrow you will see
nothing half as good."
Shops in Batum
i^EE!" Vanno pointed with a finger through
the open door of one of the Httle shacks that leaned
one against another on either side of a dark
crooked alley near the waterfront of Batum.
The pair paused, and Keto peered into the dim-
ness of the shop. The floor was of dirt ; the corners
were littered with piles of carved round sticks;
the naked rafters of the roof were loaded with
stacks of seasoning planks and logs. The three
windowless walls were hung thickly with dozens
of tiny cradles, some finished, some unpainted,
SHOPS IN BATUM 101
and still others that waited the addition of rockers
or bottoms or the rattling wooden rings.
"The cradle maker!" said Keto.
In the middle of the floor, where the light from
the open door fell, a httle old man sat hunched on
a low stool that stood three or four inches from
the floor. Before him a long thin stick was held
by the ends on the points of two nails driven into
two blocks of wood. As Keto watched, the old
man drew a long wooden bow like an archer's
across the centered stick. The leather thong of the
bow was looped around the stick, and as it was
drawn along it caused the stick to whirl rapidly.
At the same time the Maker of Cradles touched
the whirling stick with a sharp chisel which he
held between the toes of his right foot and guided
with his right hand.
"My, how the chips fly!" said Keto. In no time
the old man had made his singing chisel ride from
one end of the stick to the other and, shoving some-
thing with his free foot, the blocks fell apart and
he held in his hand a delicately carved round all
ready to be glued into the frame of a cradle. He
cast it onto one of the piles in the corner, and
^s he placed another stick in his crude lathe he
102 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
glanced up to see whose shadow it was that fell
across his sunlit floor.
"Greetings," said Keto politely, as she caught
his glance, but the old man did not answer with
words. He merely nodded gravely and went about
''He does not understand our tongues," ex-
plained Vanno. ''The makers of cradles and black-
smiths and coppersmiths and fishermen are
Greeks and speak only Turkish and their own
As Vanno and his charge wound in and out
along the winding, narrow streets they passed
the clanging shops of the coppersmith and tarried
to see the workmen pound and beat the thin sheets
of copper into bowls and pots and trays. Some-
times they would stop working for a while on
their sharp-pointed anvils and heat the copper
sheets until they glowed, and then dip them sput-
tering and sizzling into a huge earthen jar of
cold water before they began to beat them again.
"That is to make the copper soft," said Vanno,
in answer to Keto's inquiry. "When copper is
pounded it becomes hard and brittle and would
SHOPS IN BATUM 103
soon split and break if it were not softened in
"Oh! There is a fire," cried Keto. "A shop is
burning!" She pointed out to Vanno a door some
few paces farther on from which great billows
of white smoke were pouring.
"No, no," laughed the smith's son. "Come. You
will soon see what causes the smoke."
In the shop was a great forge with a huge bel-
lows slung to the ceiling like that of Vanno's
father at Ozerget. A sooty-faced boy was pump-
ing at the fire, over which another sooty workman
was bending. In his hand the workman held a red
copper bowl which he was heating. As the copper
turned black with the heat he threw into the bowl
a little pinch of white powder. White, blinding
smoke that brought tears to Keto's curious eyes
billowed from the bowl and the man, casting into
it a piece of something that rang like metal, began
to rub the bowl furiously with a handful of shred-
As he rubbed, the bowl, which had been first
red, then black, became bright with a shining
silver luster. He held it up to the light and gave
it several careful dabs before he hung it on a
104 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
nail before the door of the dirty, smoke-stained
"He has turned the copper into silver/' cried
Keto in surprise. But Vanno explained to her
that it was only a thin covering of melted tin that
the man had put on the copper to keep it easy to
"I see the sea," exclaimed Keto, as she and
Vanno came from a last twist of the winding
street. "Take me to the sea, Vanno ! Take me to
the sea! Can we see the ships?"
"Not here," said Vanno. "Only the small fish-
ing boats and the tiny sailing ships from the
Turkish coast are anchored at the shore. It is
not very deep here and the big ships go farther
down where their deep bottoms will not take all
The little boats were anchored row on row along
the pebbly shore. The larger ones bobbed up and
down with the swell of the water, but the smaller
ones had been pulled up high and dry on the beach.
From some, barefooted sailors were unloading
their catch of fish, and others, already unloaded,
were draped with the steaming folds of dirty
patched canvas sails that were stretched to dry
in the warm sun. Everywhere was the smell of
SHOPS IN BATUM 105
fish. Great stretches of nets were hung from racks
made by tying together three oars, and fishermen
were busily knotting and weaving new meshes in
them to mend the tears made during the night's
fishing. Or perhaps they were adding a few more
leaden balls to weight the lower edges and slabs
of cork to float the tops.
Women and men in every sort of garb stood
haggling with the fish venders or digging with
searching fingers among the smelly heaps of fish.
Vanno pointed them all out to Keto: Greek
women in woolen dresses with aprons belted about
them; with their hair in two plaits down their
backs, a knitted shawl knotted about their hips,
and black kerchiefs about their heads. Turkish
women were there, shrouded from head to feet
in flowing, dark blue tchadars dotted with white.
The most noticeable of all were the Kurdish
women in their embroidered wool dresses and silk
vests and bright kerchiefs bound to their black
heads by wire circlets with dozens of little tinkling
gold coins. Some carried babies in big three-cor-
nered scarfs slung at their backs, and each was
belted with a broad leather band from which hung
long streamers twisted from many-colored yarn,
106 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
tipped with tassels that swung to and fro as the
wearer padded from table to table seeking alms
in the way of rejected pieces of fish.
Along the waterfront came a Persian merchant
in heelless slippers, long black satin coat, and tall,
brimless black hat. He was followed by a porter
carrying the goods which he had, perhaps, bought
for his shop somewhere back in the dizzy puzzle
of narrow dark streets.
Occasionally a wagon clattered by loaded with
crates from one of the ocean boats or piled high
with bales of wool or licorice root for some far-
away port. All the shops that faced the sea seemed
to Keto to be coffeehouses. Groups of men sat
at low tables drinking tiny thimble cups of black,
sweet Turkish coffee or swallowing huge lumps
of gummy rag at luhum, Turkish delight. Some
played at dominoes or backgammon, slapping the
hard palmwood disks down with sharp cracks on
the pearl-inlaid boards.
"Is it a feast day," asked Keto, "that everyone
seems to be playing at nardi or dominoes?"
"No," said her companion, "here in the city
people play at games at other times than feast
days. Here it is not just a game. While they play
at nardi they are busy buying and selling. It is in
SHOPS IN BATUM 107
this way that many merchants of Batum do their
^'Bashka-ke-le! Bashka-ke-le/^ shouted a loud
voice near by. Keto turned and saw a ragged man
who looked very much like the Kurd porters. He
did not have the porters' straw pillow, though.
Instead, he balanced on his bare head a round
wooden platter filled with a heap of red-brown
*'What does he shout?" asked Keto.
"He is shouting that he has 'hot heads' for
sale," said Vanno. "They are sheep heads which
some baker has let him roast in his oven while he
was heating it to bake his bread. They are very
good to eat."
"Ugh!" shrugged Keto. "That is no food for
Gurians. Let those who understand his language
Vanno chuckled. "He is not shouting in his own
language. He is talking in Turkish, for in this
town of many peoples and many languages
Turkish is the language which everyone under-
stands. It is the language of the bazaar."
"Look out," shouted Keto suddenly, "you will
step on the traders' carpets."
Vanno glanced down. The rough cobbles of the
108 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
street into which they had turned were covered
from side to side with bright Persian carpets and
rugs. "He has placed them there to be walked
upon," Vanno reassured her. "In the sun and
under the feet of passing people their colors,
which are too bright when they are first woven,
will fade and they will be far more valuable. Be-
sides, foreigners, the Inglisi and Americani, do
not like new rugs, and the rugs will fetch a much
greater price when they look older."
"The Inglisi have queer customs," agreed Keto
as she stepped gingerly across the beautiful car-
pets, for she was not quite sure that Vanno was
Vanno looked up at the sun. "It is time to go
home, Keto-heart," said he. "Your father will be
waiting at the station. Let us hurry."
^'Vai-mir mourned Keto sadly. "We have not
seen half of all the strange things. Vai-mi, that I
should have slept so late this morning when I
might have been walking with you."
"Do not mind," Vanno comforted her. "Are
you not going to Tiflis with de Ja-Nina when she
takes the silk to the bazaar ? You must save your
eyes, too, for the trip home. You can watch the
sea from the train."
SHOPS IN BATUM 109
At Natonebi, Keto and her father left the train
and sought the house where Vasso had left the
cart and buffaloes. It was dusk; Keto was very
tired and spoke little. In her hand she clutched a
tiny round cardboard box like a pill box. She was
very careful of it. In the box were the eggs for
the silkworms — the silkworms that she and Gogi
were to care for.
As their creaking cart left the village and
crawled along the winding road that led toward
the foothills of their mountains they were joined
by other travelers who had returned by the same
train and were also wending their way home.
Years ago this flat stretch of land, so different
from the mountain slopes on which the Gurians
made their homes, had seemed to them strange and
awful. It was thought to be inhabited by Goblins
of the Low Places. Travelers when crossing it
always sang to keep themselves from evil. People
now were no longer afraid of the goblins, but the
singing had become a habit and custom.
Some one of the travelers far ahead began a
song in a high piping treble.
"Hidelly, hidelly, hidelly-ho
DeUy, ho-delly, ho-delly-ho."
no NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
Others joined in the wordless song with varia-
tions in bass and tenor. Keto pillowed her tired
head on a bundle and dozed. Vasso rode the pole
of his jouncing cart and sang with the leader:
"Ho-a, ho-a, Hooooooooo "
Tending the Silkworms
ETO leaned over a little wooden box. The box
was no larger than those in which shoes are bought
and it was covered with a sheet of thick paper
punctured with dozens of pin pricks. At her side
"See!" said Keto to her brother. "They are
hatching! The worms are coming out of their tiny
Five or six of the very smallest black worms
were crawling over the white surface of the paper.
As the brother and sister watched, several others
poked their weaving black heads through the pin
pricks and wriggled out into the light of day.
"Some of the holes are too large," said Gogi.
112 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"There is a worm with a piece of his shell stick-
ing to his back. Unless the holes are small enough
to scrape the fragments of shell from the new-
born worms, the sharp edges will soon cut into
their growing sides and kill them."
Keto moistened a little patch of paper and
stuck it over the hole that was too big. "That will
fix it," said she. "Can you see another?"
As the worms collected on the top of their nest
Keto carefully swept them off with a large turkey
feather onto other pieces of paper that each held
a few tender mulberry leaves.
"Have you enough leaves?" asked Gogi, who
had promised to gather the feed for the worms.
"More than enough," answered Keto. "They
are far too tiny to eat much yet. Wait a week and
they will keep you busy."
Keto was right. About forty thousand worms
came from the little box that Vasso bought in
Batum from a Greek trader. The first week they
ate but six pounds or so of their mulberry-leaf
diet, and then they fell asleep.
"Sh!" warned Keto, as Gogi came into the
room where the silkworms lay. "They are asleep.
Do not bring any more leaves, for they will not
be fresh when the worms awake. When they shed
TENDING THE SILKWORMS 113
their skins and come to life they must have plenty
of food, but it must be fresh and juicy."
Gogi threw the leaves out of the open window
and said: "Father and I have finished the racks.
Shall I bring them in?"
''Bring them now," said his sister. "The worms
have grown larger and will not fall through the
cracks now. They need more room, too."
Gogi brought the racks which he and Vasso
had prepared for the worms to fed upon. They
looked like miniature rafts made of cornstalks
tied together with split osier fibers.
"Look," said Keto, as she and Gogi trans-
ferred the awakened worms. "They are much
larger. The humps are beginning to grow on their
backs and the sharp black spikes in their tails
"They are turning from black to gray," said
Gogi, as he carefully picked up a handful of mul-
berry leaves covered with greedy gnawing worms
and placed it on a new rack.
"They will be even grayer when they change
this skin and get their third one," said Keto. "The
bigger they get the grayer they become and the
more they eat."
"Eat, my little ones, eat," urged Keto, and the
114 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
worms ate greedily. They grew and grew. Dur-
ing the next three weeks the forty thousand worms
that were hatched from a tiny pinch of eggs ate
over half a ton of leaves. Three times more they
slept and changed their skins, and their racks at
the end of the month filled the whole sunny south
room from floor to ceiling. For as they grew more
racks were added to give them space and a place
big enough to hold the heaps of leaves that they
The first week they had eaten but a handful of
food, but before they had lived a full month the
entire family was busy gathering leafy branches
from the mulberry trees to feed them. Through-
out the whole day Nina and Keto and Vasso and
Gogi labored to feed their greedy mouths and
clear away the rubbish and occasional dead worms
that fell through the cracks in the cornstalk
frames. Even baby Morro seemed to understand
that it was very important, for she would lie hour
after hour watching the others at their work. She
loved, too, to be given a green branch from the
sheaves of worm feed, from which she could tear
the soft leaves one by one and strew them about
The thousands of gnawing jaws filled the room
TENDING THE SILKWORMS 115
with a continued rustle like the wind through tree
tops. Piles of leaves disappeared like wisps of
straw in a fire. Toward the end of the month
Vasso arose several times during the night to feed
the troublesome creatures.
"They have stopped eating!" announced Keto
one day when all were completely tired out with
caring for the hungry worms. *'See! They are
about to begin spinning their cocoons!"
The family gathered about one of the lower
racks and watched the worms on it. A few stiU
continued to eat, but most of them stood in one
spot and waved their heads about in the air as
though they were smelling the wind. On the leaf-
less twigs could be seen here and there a thin,
shining floss. The silk was ready for spinning.
"It is good," said Gogi with relief, "that they
do not grow as large as snakes or aU the forest
would not hold enough to feed them."
"Do not think that the work is all done," warned
his sister. "We must watch closely now or they
will spin their cocoons so near to one another that
they will stick together and be ruined. We must
take good care that each worm has all the room
In a few days every worm had disappeared,
116 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
wrapped in a bright cocoon that he had woven
about himself. When Nina was certain that every
worm had finished his cocoon she called Keto and
Gogi and together they collected all the little
silky bags and emptied them into a huge pot of
hot water. This was to kill the worm inside before
it had time to turn into a moth and ruin the cocoon
by bursting through its silken walls.
Then came days of work — the unraveling of
the almost invisible web from the cocoons and
twisting four or five together to make thread.
When the thread was twisted from the floss it
yvsis rewound on a distaff and spun again. This
time, as the long wooden top spun by a twist of
Nina's strong fingers twisted the thread tighter
and tighter, it was scraped up and down with a
V-shaped piece of bamboo which shaved all the
tiny knots and lumps from the floss. These lumps
and knots were really blobs of the glue that held
the double thread of the cocoon together, for
a silkworm spins two threads at once and sticks
them side by side to form a flat, tapelike thread.
"We are being rewarded for our hard work,"
said Nina, pointing to the fat skeins of golden
silk that hung on the wall. "We shall have twice
as much this year."
TENDING THE SILKWORMS 117
"It was all my fault last year," said Gogi con-
tritely. "If I had but watched a little closer the
ants would not have eaten up the young worms
as they slept."
"Not altogether your fault," his mother con-
soled him. "Father Vasso picked too many leaves
from the mulberry trees that bear fruit. The
leaves of those which do not bear fruit are not so
sweet and do not, therefore, attract the ants."
"This year," boasted Keto, "I took good care
that the ants were helpless. I did as Granny told
me — I put little rings of red pepper dust around
aU the poles that hold the racks. The wicked
ants could not pass through the hot red pepper
to get the sleeping worms."
"You have both been a great help," agreed her
mother. "And you shall both have the reward
which I promised. You shall go with me to Tiflis
when the silk is taken to the bazaar."
The Tale of Ashik-Kerib
NCLE KOLA sat with his wool-stockinged
feet thrust ahnost into the glowing embers of the
open fire on the floor of the little log kitchen down
by the brook and thrummed the strings of his
guitar. He had just finished the singing of a song.
"Long life to thee, Kola, and thanks," said
Vasso, who had followed the singing closely from
beginning to end.
Keto and Gogi, who had also listened intently,
thanked him and Gogi asked, "How is this song
called. Uncle Kola?"
"It is called," replied Uncle Kola, "the song
of Ashik-Kerib. It is a song well known and much
THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 119
loved in Tiflis, for in Tiflis live many of our
people who are Moslems and Ashik-Kerib was
*'Who was Ashik-Kerib?" asked Keto.
"Ashik-Kerib was a poor man who became rich
and a sad man who was made happy," explained
Uncle Kola. "It is a long story which I learned
from the Tellers of Tales in the coffeehouses and
on the bazaars of Tiflis."
"Please tell us the tale of Ashik-Kerib," begged
"Oh, please do, Uncle Kola!" Gogi added his
''Khargi! It is well!" agreed Uncle Kola. "But
it is a long tale. Take care that you do not fall
asleep before it is finished."
Uncle Kola tore a small square of paper from
a large sheet which he carried in the pocket of
his tunic and rolled a long, funnel-shaped ciga-
rette from a pinch of Vasso's strong tobacco. To
the accompaniment of soft chords on his guitar,
Uncle Kola told the tale of Ashik-Kerib, pausing
now and then to puff at the cigarette, which he al-
lowed to hang on his lower lip and waggle up and
down as he talked or sang.
120 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
The Tale of Ashik-Kerib
In the ancient city of Tiflis, many, many years
ago, there lived a wealthy Moslem. Allah had en-
dowed him with much gold, but dearer to him
than all his gold was his one daughter, Magul-
Mageri. The stars in the heavens are beautiful,
but beyond the stars are the angels. And as the
angels are more beautiful than the stars, so was
Magul-Mageri more beautiful than all the other
maidens of Tiflis. In Tiflis there also lived a poor
youth called Ashik-Kerib. The Prophet had given
him nothing but a good heart and the gift of song.
Playing on the sweet strings of his saaza and sing-
ing the praises of the ancient heroes of his native
land, he wandered about wherever there was a
wedding or feast and assisted the rich and fortu-
nate in making merry. He first saw Magul-
Mageri at one of these feasts, and they fell deeply
in love with one another at first sight. But as poor
Ashik-Kerib had little hope of ever winning her
hand he became sad as the winter skies.
One day, as Ashik-Kerib lay sleeping in the
shade of a vineyard, Magul-Mageri passed In the
company of some of her maidens, and one of them
saw the slumbering asMh (Ashik means min-
THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 121
strel) . The friend fell behind the other girls and,
addressing the sleeper, sang: "Why do you doze,
foolish one, in the shade of the vineyard? Your
gazelle is passing by!" Ashik-Kerib awoke and
the girl darted away like a swift bird. Magul-
Mageri heard the song and began to upbraid her
"If you only knew to whom I sang," answered
the girl, "you would not be angry with me. It
was your own Ashik-Kerib."
"Take me to him!" demanded her mistress, and
when she saw the sorrowful face of Ashik-Kerib
Magul-Mageri began to comfort him.
"How shall I not sorrow," said he, "when I
love you so much and know that you can never
be my wife?"
"Ask my hand of my father," said she. "He will
celebrate our wedding with his own money and
will give me a dowry that will be enough to keep
us in comfort the remainder of our lives."
"No, dear Magul-Mageri," refused Ashik-
Kerib, "I shall not do that. But I shall make a
vow. I shall wander over the earth for seven
years, and by the end of that time I shall either
have wealth or I shall be dead. If you are pleased
122 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
with this plan we will be married at the end of
the seven years if I return."
Poor Magul-Mageri could do nothing but
agree, but she added that if he did not return at
the end of seven years she would become the wife
of Kurshud-Bey who had also loved her for many
Ashik-Kerib received his mother's blessing and,
kissing his little sister, he slung his pack over one
shoulder and left the city of Tiflis with the staff
of a traveler in his hand. Before he had gone far
he was overtaken by a galloping horseman who
greeted him. It was Kurshud-Bey.
"A fair journey," said he. "Whither you wan-
der, traveler, I am your friend!"
Ashik was little pleased with his friend but there
was nothing that he could do. Long they traveled
together until they came to a deep river that had
neither bridge nor ford. "Swim ahead," said the
Bey to Ashik, "and I shall follow behind on my
Ashik took off his outer garments and swam
across the water. As he stepped onto the farther
shore he turned to see how his companion fared.
Oh, woe! Oh, Mighty Allah! The wicked Bey had
stolen his clothing and was well on his way back
THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 123
to Tiflis. Naught was to be seen but a long snaky
cloud of dust that showed the path he had taken
across the sandy desert.
When he returned to Tiflis the wicked Bey
went to the aged mother of Ashik-Kerib and
showed her the clothing of her son. "Your son
drowned in the raging river," said he, "and I
have brought you his garments."
The sorrowing mother fell weeping on the
clothes of her lost child and when her grief was
a little less she took them to Magul-Mageri and,
showing them to the rich Moslem's daughter, said,
"My son is dead; you are free from your promise.
See! Kurshud-Bey has brought back his gar-
But Magul-Mageri only smiled and shook her
beautiful head, "Do not believe him," she said.
"It is only some trick of wicked Kurshud-Bey.
Until the seven years have passed no man shall
be my husband." And taking down her silver-
stringed saaza from the wall she began to play
upon it and to sing the favorite song of her be-
Meanwhile the traveler, barefooted and naked,
had come to a little village. The kind inhabitants
fed and clothed him, and he sang wonderful songs
lU NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
to them in return. In this manner he wandered
from village to village and from city to city until
his fame was carried all about. At last he came
to the city of Kalif . As was his custom he went
into a coffeehouse and, asking for a saaza^ he sat
down and began to play.
The ruler of Kalif at that time was a great lover
of music and singing. Many minstrels were
brought to him by his men, but none of them
pleased him. His agents were exhausted with
running about the city seeking for singers, but it
so happened that they passed the coffeehouse
where Ashik was resting and heard his wonderful
"Come with us," said they, "to the pasha, or
you shall lose your head."
"I am a free man," Ashik answered them. "I
come from the city of Tiflis and I go whither I
desire. I sing only as I wish and your pasha is
no master of mine."
The pasha's agents would not listen to him and
despite his protests they bound him and dragged
him before their ruler.
"Sing!" commanded the pasha.
Poor Ashik-Kerib sang, and in his song he
told of his love for the beautiful Magul-Mageri.
THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 125
His singing so pleased the pasha that the great
man besought him to remain with him in KaHf .
The pasha made him rich gifts of fine clothing
and money. Ashik began to live happily and be-
came very rich. Whether he forgot his beloved
Magul-Mageri or not it is hard to say, but the
last year of the seven drew swiftly to an end,
and he still made no preparations for returning
The beautiful Magul-Mageri became very sad
as the time passed and there was no sign of her
lover. She went to a merchant who was about to
leave Tiflis with his caravan of goods and a band
of slaves and, giving him a silver plate, said, "In
every city to which you come place this plate
among your goods so that it may be easily seen
and send out criers to say that any man who is
able to prove that the plate is his may have it and
likewise its weight in pure gold."
The trader set out and in every city and village
to which he came he did as Magul-Mageri had
ordered him. He had sold almost all of his goods
and the last city to which he came was Kalif . Here,
as in other cities, he sent criers out to tell of the
silver plate and Ashik-Kerib, hearing their shouts
on the streets, rushed to the place where the trader
ne NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
had halted his caravan and, clutching the plate
in his arms, shouted, "It is mine!"
"Surely it is thine," said the trader, who had
immediately recognized him as Ashik-Kerib. "But
Magul-Mageri bade me tell thee that the seven
years are drawing swiftly to their end and that
if you do not hasten back to Tiflis before the last
day she will become the bride of another."
Poor Ashik tore his beard with despair; only
three days remained to make the long trip to
Tiflis. He leaped on his horse, however, and tak-
ing with him a huge sack of gold, sped away on
the homeward journey. He did not spare his
horse and at last, as he galloped along the slopes
of the mountain of Arzinian, the poor beast fell
dead. How now could Ashik travel? It was a two-
months journey from Arzinian to Tiflis, and to
him there was left but two days.
Ashik prayed to Almighty Allah, "Help me,
O Allah, for there is no power on earth that
As he spoke, a man mounted on a snow-white
horse appeared at his side. "What do you wish,
young man?" he inquired.
"I wish to die, only," wept the disheartened
"/ wish to reach Ezeroum before nightfall" said AshiL
THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 127
"I can soon arrange that matter for you," said
the horseman. "Follow me."
"How may I follow thee?" wept Ashik. "I am
weighted down with this sack and you are on your
horse, which is as swift as the wind."
"True!" agreed the man. "Hang your sack on
the back of my saddle and follow me."
Ashik-Kerib ran as fast as he was able, but
he could not keep apace with the horseman.
"Why do you fall behind?" shouted the stran-
"How shaU I not fall behind?" wept Ashik. "I
am very tired and you are on your horse which is
as swift as a thought."
"True," agreed the man. "Climb onto the sad-
dle behind me and tell me truly where you wish
"I wish to reach Erzeroum before nightfall,"
"Close your eyes," commanded the man, and
in another moment, "open them!"
Ashik looked about him. They were in Erz-
eroum! "Pardon me, master," he cried. "I was
mistaken. I wish to be in Kars."
"Did I not warn you to tell me the truth?" said
the stranger with an angry shake of his white-
us NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
turbaned head. *' Close your eyes again. Now,
The second time when Ashhk opened his
eyes he saw all about him the tall spires of Kars.
He could scarcely believe that it was true. He
fell on his face before the stranger and wept,
**Pardon, master! I am thrice guilty! You know,
yourself, that if a man starts the day with a lie
he must lie the whole day through. It was to
Tiflis that your servant wished to go."
"Shame, faithless one!" cried the man. "Close
your eyes once more. And open them!"
Ashik leaped with joy. He stood at the gates
of Tiflis. "Your servant thanks you!" said he
to the white-turbaned horseman. "But grant me,
I pray, one more wish. It is a two-months jour-
ney from Arzinian to Tiflis ; no man will believe
me when I say that I came in one day. Give me
some proof of this miracle."
"Stoop," said the man, "and take from the
hoof of my horse a clod of dirt. If your words
are not believed demand that a person be brought
to you which has been blind for seven years. Rub
his blind eyes with the dirt and he shall see."
Ashik stooped and took a clod of dirt, and
when he arose the man and his white horse were
THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 129
nowhere to be seen. He knew then that the strange
horseman was no other than White Georgi whom
the Moslems call Khaderihaz!
It was late evening before Ashik found his
almost-forgotten home. He knocked at the closed
door with a hand that shook and cried, ^'Deda!
Deda! Mother! Mother! Open your door! I am
a traveler, the Lord's guest ! Open in the name of
your absent son!"
A feeble voice answered him, "The houses of
the rich and mighty are open to the traveler. In
the city there is a marriage feast ; there you will
be welcomed and may pass the night in merri-
"I have no friends in this city, Deda/^ contin-
ued Ashik. "I repeat my prayer; for the sake of
your absent son, take me in!"
Then spoke his sister, "I shall arise and open
the door to him."
"You are a naughty girl," cried the old woman.
"You are only too glad to welcome young men, for
you know that it is now seven years that I have
been blind with weeping for my lost son."
The daughter did not heed her mother, how-
ever, and, giving the stranger the usual greetings,
stood watching him with a strange feeling in her
130 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
breast. Ashik returned her greetings and, seating
himself, gazed about the familiar room. On the
wall, wrapped in its dusty cover, hung his saaza
— ^his sweet-toned saaza, and turning to his mother
he asked, "What is this that hangs on your wall?"
"You are a curious guest," replied the old
woman. "Is it not enough that we give you a piece
of bread and a place to rest your tired head and
Godspeed on the morrow?"
"I have already called you my mother and this
maid is my sister," continued Ashik. "And now
I ask what this is that hangs on your wall."
"It is a saaza — a saazaf' answered the aged
woman angrily, for she did not believe him. "It
is a saaza upon which those who can make music."
Ashik begged that his sister be allowed to take
the instrument down and show it to him, but the
old lady refused to permit it. "Never!" she said
stubbornly. "That is the saaza of my unfortunate
son. Seven years it has hung on that wall and no
living hand shall ever touch its strings."
Again his sister disobeyed her mother, and tak-
ing down the dusty saaza, handed it to Ashik.
"Almighty Allah," said he as he took it, "if
my wish is to come true let these seven silver
THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 131
strings be tuned as they were when last I hung
this saaza on yonder wall!"
He struck the long-silent strings and they
answered in perfect harmony. He sang, "I ^m
but a poor harih, a wanderer, but mighty White
Georgi gave me his aid and though I am poor and
my song is poor I am thy own lost son, my
His mother broke into tears and asked, "How
are you called, son?"
"I am called," said Ashik, "Reshid, the Simple-
"You have broken my heart with your song,
Reshid," said the old woman. "Last night I
dreamed that I saw the hair of my old head white
as snow, but it is now seven years since I wept my
sight away for my lost son. Tell me, you who
have his voice, when shall my son return?"
Twice she repeated the questions with tears
in her blind eyes, but she would not believe Ashik
when he declared that he was her long-lost son.
"Let me take the saaza, D^<Za-heart," begged
he. "I shall visit the marriage feast which is
near by and sing to them. All the money which
falls to my share I shall give to you."
At first the old woman would not hear of the
13^ NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
saaza being taken from beneath her roof, but
when he promised to give her all his baggage if
he harmed but one string of the precious instru-
ment she consented. She had felt the heavy sack
and knew it to be filled with gold.
His sister accompanied him to the feast and
stood at the open door to see what would happen.
It was the house of Magul-Mageri and on this
night she was to become the bride of Kurshud-
Bey. Magul-Mageri sat in a corner with her
maidens. She was wrapped from head to foot in
a rich cJiadra, and under its folds she held in one
hand a sharp knife and in the other a cup of
poison. She had resolved that she would rather
die than become the bride of anyone other than
her beloved Ashik.
"Welcome, singer!" said Kurshud-Bey to
Ashik when he saw him standing with his saaza
beneath his arm. "Welcome, for we are feasting.
Play a tune and sing a song and I shall give you
a handful of silver."
When the Bey asked his name Ashik answered,
''Tchhorra-vitsis, that is, Soon-to-be-known."
"That is a queer name," laughed the merry
Bey. "I have never heard its like before, But a
name is a name — ^play and sing to us I"
THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 133
Ashik struck a chord and sang, "I drank sweet
wine in the city of Kahf , but Allah gave me wings
and I flew to Tiflis in three days."
Kurshud-Bey had a brother who was a little
foolish, and when he heard these words he leaped
to his feet and, drawing his sword, would have
cut off the singer's head, saying, ''Why do you
tell us falsehoods — ^that you flew from Kalif in
"Why would you kill me ?" asked Ashik. "Sing-
ers gather from all places and sing their songs as
they know them. Beheve me or not, as you will."
"Let him sing," said the groom, and Ashik
"I made my morning prayers in the valley of
the Arzinian; at noon I bowed down in Ezer-
oum ; at sunset I prayed in Kars, and with the fall
of night in Tiflis, Allah gave me wings, and I flew
hither. I give thanks that I did not fall beneath
the flying hoofs of the swift white horse, for he
leaped from hill to vale and from vale to hill like
those who dance on swinging ropes. Allah gave
wings to the poor singer and he flew to the feast
of the lovely Magul-Mageri !"
When Magul-Mageri knew his voice she re-
joiced and cast the sharp knife on one side and
134 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
the glass of poison on the other. "You are about
to break your vow," said her maidens when they
saw that she no longer held death in her hands.
"To-night you will become the bride of Kurshud-
"Can you not hear?" repUed Magul-Mageri
happily. "It is the voice of my own Ashik-Kerib !"
And taking a pair of scissors, she snipped the
thick veil that covered her fair face.
When her eyes were no longer shaded she saw
Ashik-Kerib standing in the middle of the room,
and throwing themselves into each other's arms
they fainted with joy.
Again Kurshud-Bey's brother rushed forward
with drawn sword, and again his arm was stayed.
"Peace!" said Kurshud. "What is written on a
man's forehead when he is born shall surely come
When Magul-Mageri was revived she blushed
with shame and hid her face in the tatters of her
"Now," said Kurshud-Bey to Ashik-Kerib, "I
plainly see who you are. But tell us, pray, how
you came such a great distance in such a short
"For proof," answered Ashik, "I shall split
THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 135
a great stone with my steel sword, and if I tell
a falsehood — then may my neck become thinner
than a hair from your head! But, best of all, bring
to me one who has been blind these seven years
and I shall return to them their sight."
Ashik's sister, who had seen all and heard all,
ran quickly to their old mother and shouted,
''Deda, Deda, surely this is your lost son and my
brother!" And taking the old woman by the hand
she led her to the feast,
"Know all people the might of White Georgi!"
said Ashik, and taking the lump of dirt from his
sleeve he rubbed the blind eyes of his aged mother.
The old woman's sight was returned to her and
no one dared to doubt the truth of what Ashik
had said. Kurshud-Bey gave up the beautiful
Magul-Mageri without a word, to her true lover.
Ashik-Kerib was so happy that he bore nobody
a grudge, and taking his sister's hand, he placed
it in the palm of Kurshud-Bey. "Let my sister
comfort you for your loss, Kurshud-Bey," said
he. "She is no less lovely than my own beautiful
sweetheart, and with the great dower which I
shall give her you will be as happy as I shall be
with my beloved Magul-Mageri."
BBbbbbbbb!" cried Vasso, and his sleepy-
black buffaloes that drew his creaking wooden-
wheeled cart came to a wiUing halt. A group
of black-gowned, black-kerchiefed women had
stepped from a break in the green bay hedge that
lined the road and stood in the path of his team.
''Vai-me, deda! Vai-me! A good wife she was I
And a good mother!" they moaned and wept.
They tore their black hair that hung down in
TO MENGRALIA 137
disorder from beneath their black kerchiefs. The
faces of some bore scarlet welts where they had
scratched them with their sharp nails and they
all waved their arms and mourned as with one
Vasso descended from the cart, placed a stick
under the heavy pole to lift it from the buffaloes'
necks, and beckoning to Gogi stepped out after
the weeping women.
"Why do they weep so?" asked Gogi, as he
caught up with his father. "Do you know them,
or do they know you?"
"No," replied Vasso to his son. "I do not know
them; nor do they know me, but someone in the
household has died."
"But why do they call us mama-heart?" won-
dered Gogi. "Have we not come hither to buy a
horse? But a moment since you spoke of need to
make haste on the road."
"This is Mengraha, Gogi-heart," answered
his father. "These people are Karthli, as are we,
but their ways differ from ours as does their
tongue. When a house is in mourning all who
pass on the road must halt and visit with the
"Is it right that the women of a sad house
138 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
should stand at their gate and summon strangers
to their table?" asked Gogi.
"These women are not of the sad house, Gogi,"
explained Vasso. "They are women that are hired
for a sum of money to gather at sad houses and
weep for the death of a person. They are paid
by the master of the house at which they gather."
"What a strange thing!" said Gogi.
"It is not so strange when you know the rea-
son," continued Vasso. "Since it is their custom
to call every stranger that passes their gate, they
must always keep a full table of food. It would
be still stranger if a guest were called to an empty
table. The women of a sad house in this country
of Mengralia are busy in the kitchen, for they
have no time to weep. A good housewife must
always get the food for her guests with her own
hands. That is real bread and salt."
Vasso and Gogi followed the black mourners
through a little grove of trees and came out into
an open place in front of the house. In the open
place stood a long rough table, and about the table
sat or stood a fair company of men and women.
"Bread and salt, brothers," greeted them a tall,
gray-bearded man who appeared to be the Head
TO MENGRALIA 139
of the Table. For at funerals as well as feasts
there must be a Head of the Table.
"I weep with the master of this house," replied
Vasso, as the tall man guided them to a place at
the table. Food was pressed on them by the women
and for a while father and son ate in silence.
When they had disposed of a good share of
the good food on the table the tall man, who was,
in fact, the Head of the Table, arose and filled a
long black bullock's horn with wine from a long-
necked earthen koki which stood on the ground at
his side. This he passed to Vasso, and filled another
for Gogi and a third for himself.
The tall man took a fragment of bread, and
dipping it into the wine of his horn, laid it care-
fully on the table before him. "The good mistress
of this house bids you live long," said he.
By these words Vasso knew that the mistress
of the house had died. Likewise dipping a piece
of bread in his wine, he placed it on the table
boards before him, and raising the horn to drink,
he said, "The Kingdom of Heaven be unto this
dead mistress and long life to the living of this
The words were spoken in the language of
Mengralia, which Gogi could not understand, but
140 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
dipping the bread in the wine was something that
was done in Guria. He, too, dipped his bread in
his wine, took a sip from his horn, and said in his
own tongue, "Heavenly Engdom to the dead
and long life to the living!"
Vasso would have left when they had finished
this toast, but the Head of the Table urged them
to stay for a little while, saying that the priest
would surely soon come and the funeral be
brought to an end. They had scarcely resumed
their seats when the loud cries and moans of the
women at the gate made it known that someone
else had arrived.
"Perhaps this is the priest," whispered Vasso
to his son, for he was impatient to be on his way,
but feared to oflfend the master of the sad house.
The priest came, accompanied by the mourning
women in black. He blessed the people standing
in the yard as he passed among them and went
into the house. Through the open windows could
be heard his droning voice as he read a last prayer.
Several young people came out of the house and
took the coffin lid which leaned against the door-
post — a sign that death had visited that house.
All the flowers which had been brought by sor-
rowing friends were piled onto the lid and the
TO MENGRALIA 141
young people moved with them toward the gate.
Six grown men emerged from the house bearing
the open coffin. Three long white linen towels
had been passed under the casket, and support-
ing it by holding the ends of these towels, the
men carried it through the door, down the steps,
and across the yard in the path of the flowers.
The priest took a place at the head of the pro-
cession, swinging a smoking censer and chanting
a prayer from a book which he held in his right
hand. At his side walked a deacon carrying a tall
candle and now and then joining the priest in his
singsong prayer. Behind the coffin came the mas-
ter of the house, the dead woman's husband, sur-
rounded by the hired mourners, weeping louder
than ever now. The dead woman slept in her open
casket. Her pale hands were folded over her
breast, and between her fingers a cross had been
placed. The cross was made of two wax tapers
which had been heated and stuck together at
Vasso and Gogi, among others, did not follow
in the procession, but stood on one side, heads
bared, bowing and making the sign of the cross
as it passed before them.
A woman came from the house, and seeing that
142 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
Vasso and the others were not following to the
graveyard, she hastened to bring forward a big
dish heaped with cold boiled rice and dotted with
tiny bits of colored candies. This was the Dish
of Remembrance, and everyone took a pinch of
rice and a piece of candy before leaving. Each,
as he took his portion, made the sign of the cross
and murmured, "Kingdom of Heaven to the
When all had eaten a bit the woman brought
a koki of water and gave them, one by one, to wash
their hands as is the custom at the end of a funeral.
Gogi and his father washed their fingers as did
all the others, and when this duty was done
they bowed to the woman who had ministered to
them and with a whispered farewell hastened to
their waiting cart and departed.
"We have lost a day," said Vasso sadly, as he
and Gogi rode on. "A man cannot buy a horse
by candlelight. A horse is not a sack of onions
and it will be dark before we reach the trader's
Gogi was not very sorry that they were forced
to spend a night in Mengralia. He hoped to see
other strange things, but he nodded his head.
A Horse Trade and a Wedding
O GOGI the land of Mengralia seemed very
flat and ugly. True, the trees were tall and stately ;
they were too tall and stately. They sprang
straight up from the level soil to a great height
as though they did not care to associate with other
things of the earth. Not so the mountain trees of
Gogi's home; their bent bodies seemed to turn
ever back toward the earth as though loath to
lose its company. Even their knotty, gnarled arms
144 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
grew out from just above the roots to shelter
little birds and make steps for those who liked
to climb into the swaying tops to swing with the
wind. If any birds were nested in the Mengralian
trees they were so high in the air that their songs
were lost before they reached the ears of travelers
on the road below.
Gogi turned about in the cart on which he rode
and looked back toward the mountains that were
his home. The lowland mists and the dusk of the
evening made them appear to be a long way off.
He wondered what Nina and Keto were doing;
and baby Morro. Father Vasso trudged along
at the heads of the two buffaloes hitched to the
creaking cart, but Gogi felt sad and lonesome
and far from home. He tried a song, but his voice
sounded squeaky and weak in the open country;
there were no mountains or hollows to send the
echoes ringing back.
"Truly," thought Gogi, "this is an empty place
and unfit to be lived in. Not even a thicket to hide
It was late twilight when Vasso clucked to his
buffaloes, touched the off one with his switch,
and guided the grunting, complaining fellows
off the main road onto a long straight path bor-
HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 145
dered with tall trees. At the far end of the path,
some distance from the highway, stood a house.
It was unlike the houses of Guria; it was broad
and squat and sat flat on the level ground.
"Surely this is a topsy-turvy country," thought
Gogi. "The trees are tall and the houses are low.
The people must be as unfriendly as their trees,
for they have built their homes as far away from
the road as they possibly could."
Buffaloes do not like strange places, and Vasso
was forced to give his pair an occasional cut with
the switch, accompanied with a sharp word of
command, to drive them toward the house.
His shouts must have been heard in the house,
for a man emerged to meet them and stood be-
fore his door. As Vasso halted his team the man
bowed and greeted the travelers in his own lan-
guage, which Vasso understood. A lad about the
same age as Gogi came from around the corner
and took the lead rein from Gogi's father.
"He will bed down our beasts," Vasso told
Gogi. "Go with him and give him your help. He
is the master's son and his father calls him Choo-
Gogi was pleased to discover that Choo-choo
146 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
could speak the language of the Karthli. "How
did you learn our speech?" he asked of him.
"My father keeps a store in Senaki," the boy
replied. "We have many customers from among
the Gurians who live near to our borders."
"Do you sell things in the store?" inquired
"I sometimes sell such things as eggs and
cheeses," answered Choo-choo, "but if there is
bartering to be done then I call my father."
"Then you are a real trader," said Gogi in awed
"We Mengralians are all traders," the boy re-
plied with a smile, for he was amused that any-
one should think it pleasant to be a trader. "If
we do not trade in the stores we trade horses and
cattle. There is no place in all Georgia for such
"That I know," said Gogi. "We have come all
the way from Ozerget to buy a horse of your
"And there are no better horses in all Men-
gralia than my father's," said Choo-choo proudly.
"Prince Bagration, himself, has bought of him."
While the boys talked they were unyoking the
buffaloes and propping the pole of the wooden
HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 147
cart. Gogi could see no cornstalks among the lit-
ter on the stable floor. He picked up a strand of
the straw from the bedding and examined it.
It was almost as thin as grass, and here and there
on it were a few tiny round seeds. It was millet,
a seed that was little known to Gogi.
"That is straw from the gormi/^ explained
Choo-choo. ''You will have some for your supper.
We grow no corn in Mengralia and so can bake
no tchadi from corn meal as you of Guria do. We
make a mush of the gormi and sometimes my
father brings a little bread from the store when
it becomes too stale to sell."
"I have seen the grain of the gormi at home,"
said Gogi, "but I did not know that people ate it.
With us it is fed to little chickens and not birds."
"It is very good food," asserted Choo-choo,
afraid that Gogi would look down on the Men-
gralians because of their eating chicken feed.
"But it must be boiled in the right way. The pot
must be of thick iron and the fire not too hot.
The most important thing is to beat the gormi
well with a stout stick all the while it is cooking.
Only then will it be soft and stick together so
that you can pick it up in your fingers without
its crumbling to pieces and falling onto the table."
148 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
Gogi still thought it strange food for men, but
he said no more about it, fearing to hurt Choo-
choo's feelings. He decided to talk of something
"Your name, Choo-choo, would seem strange
to mountain ears," he said.
Choo-choo laughed. "That is not my real
name," he added. "My real name is the same as
yours — Gogi."
"But why are you called Choo-choo?" asked
the wondering Gogi.
"In Mengralia," explained Choo-choo, "every
baby is given some easy name as soon as it is
born — ^names hke Choo-choo, Zu-zu, Bo-bo, or
anything that their mother or father might think
nice. Later, when the baby is baptized, he is given
his real name after some good saint. When I go
to the church to take communion the priest always
calls me Gogi. At home I am Choo-choo, and I
like Choo-choo better."
"I like it, too," said Gogi. "It is so easy to re-
That night Gogi and Vasso ate with their Men-
gralian host. The gormi was as good as Choo-choo
had promised and it went well with a dish of red
beans hot with red pepper that set in the center
HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 149
of the table. Gogi dug deep with his fingers into
his pile of steaming gormi, pulled out a hot chunk
and, dipping it into the bowl of beans, ate it with
From across the table Choo-choo smiled and
winked and, touching his pursed lips with a thumb
and two fingers, made a soft kissing noise. Gogi
understood that this was his way of saying "How
When supper was finished Choo-choo led Gogi
to another room and they sat together on Choo-
choo's takhta and talked until both felt sleepy.
Soon they were both lying asleep on the same
takhta and covered by one felt coverlet. In the
other room Vasso and the host smoked and talked
of the sale to be made in the morning.
When Gogi awoke the sun was shining into
the room and he was alone on the takhta, Choo-
choo was up and gone, but he had not called his
guest. Gogi was not sorry until he raised himself
on one arm and looked through the window out
into the yard. He had overslept the horse trade !
Even as he watched he saw his father holding the
reins of two fine horses in his two hands. Gogi
knew that his choice lay between these two. One
was a chestnut and the other was coal black.
150 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"What a beautiful black !" thought Gogi. "How
well Father-heart's red saddle pad would look
against his black sides!"
Vasso's thoughts must have been the same, for
he retained the black horse's rein in his hand and
turned the other's over to the owner.
''Vashar shouted Gogi. "He has bought the
Vasso heard his son's shout and glanced toward
the window. He saw Gogi's shining face and cried,
"Shame on you! You have been sleeping peace-
fully and left me all alone with a Mengralian
horse trader. I am sure that I have been sadly
Gogi was sure that his father had not made
a bad deal, and in a trice he was out of bed and
ran out to get a closer look at their new property.
The black seemed even finer and blacker on closer
"What is he called, Father-heart?" questioned
"Kara-Yussuf," answered Vasso.
"That is not a name of the Karthli," complained
Gogi. "What does it mean in our tongue?"
"In our language his name would be Black
Joe," replied Vasso. "He found his strange name
HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 151
on the other side of the river where the Abkhazi
live and where he was born."
Gogi knew that the Abkhazi were fine horse-
men and Moslems, so he understood the animal's
queer name and felt certain that his father had
bought a good horse. Gogi wanted to call him
Shavi, which in the Georgian language means
Black, but his father shook his head in objection.
"It is not good to change a horse's name," he
said. "It might make him stumble some day."
Gogi was ready to believe as his father did and
decided that he must learn to like the horse's old
Gogi had wondered the day before at the long-
skirted coats, or tcherheshas, that Choo-choo and
his father wore. He had thought to himself that
such a trailing thing hanging around his ankles
would soon cost him a broken head on the moun-
tain paths if it were not torn to tatters on the
brambles and thorns of the hillsides. Now he saw
why the Mengralians loved such clothes. Choo-
choo had climbed onto the horse which had been
Vasso's second choice — the chestnut — and was
racing around the yard at a mad canter. The
horse's strides were wonderful and the long tails
of Choo-choo's tcherheska flew out in the wind
152 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
behind and flapped gracefully as he swung with
the throw of his mount.
"We shall go a part of the way with you and
your father," Choo-choo told Gogi. "A kinsman
of ours is giving his daughter in marriage and
my father and I are going to the ceremony."
"Are you riding or walking?" asked Gogi.
"Mengralians always ride ahorse to marriage
feasts," replied Choo-choo proudly. "Our kins-
man would be shamed by us if we arrived on foot."
Vasso took his high black saddle and red felt
saddle pad from the cart and cinched them on
his newly purchased horse. Gogi yoked the sleepy
buffaloes, Choo-choo's father appeared on a third
horse, and the little company headed for the road.
The horse trader led the way and, knowing the
ins and outs of the countryside as he did, they
made many short cuts on the homeward trip. The
spirited horses pranced and swerved under the
rein of their riders and poor Gogi was thoroughly
disgusted with his shambling steeds and rocking,
jolting cart. Over the cool morning air came the
sharp reports of distant shots.
Choo-choo reined in his horse and dropped back
alongside Gogi. "That is our kinsman welcoming
his guests," he told Gogi. "It is always so in Men-
HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 153
gralia. Each guest, as he arrives, is given a salute."
"It is the same with us of Guria," said Gogi
hastily, glad to find that they had something in
common. "And the guests give an answering sa-
"That is true," agreed Choo-choo. "It is a brave
Again and again sounds of gunshots were heard
as new parties of marriage guests arrived. Each
time they were nearer and at last the house was
discovered in a grove of tall trees well back from
the road. Around the trunk of a giant tree was
built a circular table about which the earlier ar-
rivals were gathered. As Gogi's little cavalcade
came into view the padrone of the house recog-
nized his kinsmen and another volley of rifle and
pistol shots rang out. Gogi could not help think-
ing how dead and dry they sounded without the
mighty mountains to send them echoing back a
The bride's father advanced to welcome them,
and Vasso was forced to dismount and visit with
the f casters for a while. Not to do so would have
been a deadly insult to the host and his guests.
"Come," said Choo-choo to Gogi. "Get some
of the good things while you may."
154 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
Gogi was interested to see what Mengralians
gave their guests and willingly followed his guide.
Many of the rich dishes were familiar to him, but
"Here is something good," said Choo-choo, and
thrust a dark piece of food into his hand.
Gogi bit into the offered titbit. It was, indeed,
tasty. He asked what it was.
"That is a stuffed eggplant," said his young
friend. "It is an eggplant stuffed with lumps of
fat from a ram's tail."
Honeyed nuts followed the eggplant into
Gogi's inquiring mouth. He washed them down
with pomegranate juice. As fast as he disposed of
one thing Choo-choo found something new until
at last he was glad when the crowd of guests be-
gan to gather in a great, noisy circle and diverted
"Hurrah!" shouted Choo-choo, "they are going
to fight their horses."
"Fight horses?" Gogi repeated in wonderment.
"I have heard of fighting rams and roosters, but
never of fighting horses."
"In Mengralia alone it is done," said Choo-
choo, "You Gurians call us cowards and traders
and say that we are afraid to fight, but there is
HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 155
no tribe in all Georgia that dares to fight their
horses as we do at our weddings."
"Those are the friends of the bride," continued
Choo-choo, and he pointed to a group of horse-
men that had collected on one side of the huge
circle. "The other group is made up of the groom's
friends and kinsmen. Now watch them fight!"
Someone fired a shot and the two parties of
horsemen rode toward each other at a mad gal-
lop. As they met every horse, as though he knew
his duty, rose pawing and snorting onto his hind
legs and threw all his weight onto an opponent.
Here and there a horse fell or a rider tumbled
from his saddle with the impact. Gogi stood spell-
bound and watched. Again and again the riders
clashed until at last every horseman on one side
had been either thrown or his horse felled to the
A great shout went up for the victors, pistols
were fired, and Gogi took a deep breath of relief
when he saw that no one had been seriously hurt.
"No man shall ever call the Mengralians cow-
ards to me," he told Choo-choo. "I felt sure that
they would all be killed."
Music began and a dancer stepped into the
156 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
circle. He cast his round fur hat on the ground
and started a dance. As he danced he sang, and
the others joined in the chorus. Choo-choo ex-
plained the song.
The man circled around his familiar hat and
made as though he did not know what it was.
Sometimes he thought it was a bear — at others a
lion or a camel. He drew his dagger and ap-
proached to kill the awful creature. He stabbed
the hat and discovered that after all it was only
Vasso did not wish to be delayed by the wed-
ding as he had been delayed by the funeral and
in the applause that followed the dance he mo-
tioned to Gogi and the two slipped away. As
they turned again into the main road they heard
the strains of a song that followed the dance:
"That is the only real song that the Mengra-
lians have," said Vasso. *'And it has neither words
nor end — just wassum, warrada, wa."
HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 157
Gogi heard but he did not answer. He was
afraid that he had eaten too much. He looked
longingly toward the cool green slopes of his
mountains and settled himself in the bed of the
cart for the long journey home.
The Golden Fleece
HE days grew warmer and warmer, the snow
climbed higher and higher up the steep slopes
of the mountains, and the little brook that ran
in back of the little log kitchen shrank back into
its shallow course and became clearer and clearer
until the smooth pohshed stones on its bottom
made little ripples on the sparkling surface of
Keto noticed that Gogi disappeared for a short
period every day. Sometimes it was in the morn-
THE GOLDEN FLEECE 159
ing and at other times it was in the afternoon,
but always he returned from one point, some-
where along the brook above the house. Keto
suspected that Gogi was hiding something from
her — that he had a secret. She would have liked
to ask him what it was, but she swallowed her
curiosity and waited silently, if somewhat im-
patiently. Gogi always shared his secrets with
her sooner or later.
At last her curiosity was satisfied. Keto was
returning with her brother from the woods where
they had gone for a frolic. Gogi led the way, but
when he came to the brook he did not cross it by
the stepping stones as usual, but turned sharply
to the right and followed up the hither bank.
Even before Gogi spoke, Keto was certain that
her brother was about to show her the object of
his mysterious business that so often took him on
his lone jaunts above the house.
*'I have a secret," said Gogi solemnly, as his
sister, anxious to learn the cause for their turn-
ing away from the house, quickened her pace and
came abreast of him. ''It was to be my secret
alone," he continued, "but it can be intrusted
to you also. I know that you will not tell anyone."
"I always keep your secrets," Keto assured
160 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
him. "Did I not keep the one about the wild bees
that you found in the wood? Oh, Gogi-heart, have
you found another nest of bees? Where did you
"This is no nest of bees," said her brother,
making a motion with his hand as though to brush
the imaginary bees to one side. Nor did he tell
his now impatient sister what it really was. "You
shall see," said he, "for yourself."
The two children followed the brook until they
came to a place where it broadened out and be-
came quite wide. It was wider here than at any
other spot which they had passed, but the water
was very shallow. It seemed to flow more swiftly,
too. Gogi seated himself on a large stone that
jutted out into the stream, and having kicked his
wooden sandals from his naked feet, rolled his
baggy woolen trousers above his knees. Keto soon
saw the reason, for this done, he slipped from the
stone and waded into the running water.
"Ooooo!" said Gogi, as the chilly brook water
lapped against his bare legs. "It is cold!"
Despite the cold Gogi waded out from the shore
to about the middle of the stream. There he rolled
his sleeves to the elbow and, stooping low, began
to grope on the shallow bottom. Keto found a seat
^^ i^i I "^ "
"/ have a secrety' said Gogi solemnly.
THE GOLDEN FLEECE 161
on the stone which her brother had used and
watched. Gogi fumbled with his fingers at some
object hidden beneath the water and after a mo-
ment straightened up with something in his
hands. It was dirty white in color, and water
dribbled from the soggy mass to fall back into
the brook in little silver splashes. Keto looked
closer as her brother approached the shore grasp-
ing the thing which he had fished from the bot-
tom of the brook.
"It is a ragged old sheepskin!" she exclaimed,
and her face was clouded with disappointment as
she eyed the sodden burden which Gogi deposited
on the ground at her feet.
"To be sure it is a sheepskin," agreed her
brother. "But it is no common sheepskin — it is a
"That is no golden fleece," retorted Keto dis-
gustedly. "I know it well. It is a piece which
Father tore from his old jacket that used to hang
in the barn. The jacket was no good and he took
a piece to put under the buffalo yoke when old
Rustam had a sore neck. A Kurdish beggar would
not thank you for it. A golden fleece, indeed!"
"It is a golden fleece," repeated Gogi stub-
bornly, as he smoothed the wet skin on a flat stone
162 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
to dry. "Shall I tell you the tale of the Golden
"I always like to hear a tale," said Keto, "but
you cannot make me believe that this old skin
is a golden fleece."
"Perhaps it is not, after all," sighed Gogi, as
he dug with his fingers into the matted wool.
"For weeks I have waited for this time and now
it seems that I shall find nothing. I shall tell you
the tale, however, and then you will know what
I hoped to discover."
"Many years ago," continued Gogi, "these
mountains of ours were filled with gold. Every
summer when the snows on their high peaks be-
gan to melt the mountain sides were streaked
with little streams of water that rushed down to
meet the brooks and rivers, just as they are in
these days. But when there was gold in the moun-
tains the water swept it up and along with it.
The water was so swift that even the heavy grains
of gold were washed along like sand and peb-
Gogi noticed that his sister listened eagerly
and went on with his story: "Our people, in those
ancient days, used to peg skins of sheep to the
bottoms of the brooks at the time when they be-
THE GOLDEN FLEECE 163
gan to swell with the melted snow, and as the
floods swept along the tiny grains of gold they
were caught in the tangling wool. The sand and
pebbles, which were lighter, did not sink into the
wool and were carried on.
"Our people gathered much gold in this way
and became very rich. They also learned how to
make golden thread and cloth of gold and fine
hilts for swords and drinking cups. Foreigners
came from far over the seas to buy our gold or
steal it, but many were afraid to visit us. In those
times some of our beloved mountains were still
fire mountains, and when they thundered and
spouted smoke the outlanders were frightened.
They counted our mountains the place where the
giant who had given fire to man was imprisoned
for this good act. When the mountains roared they
believed it to be the groans of the giant, for he
had been condemned to be tied forever on a great
stone cliff; every day an eagle came and ate out
his liver and every night it grew again. . . . This
is the tale as the natlia, our godfather, told it to
As Gogi told the story he continued to search
the wool for gold, and before the tale was finished
Keto, too, was stooped over the old skin.
164 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"It is no use," said Gogi at last. "There is no
gold in this fleece. We could have sold it at the
bazaar in Tiflis when D^^a-heart takes us and
bought things with the money."
Keto was not so disappointed as her brother
because she had not really expected to find any
gold. Nor had she waited all those weeks for the
swollen brook to go down and leave a gift of
yellow metal. She was very sorry for Gogi,
though, and said as they walked homeward:
"Never mind, Gogi-heart, you can try again next
year. Perhaps you will have better fortune next
Gogi was too disappointed to think so far ahead
as next year, and only shook his head sadly.
That night when they all sat in the kitchen by
the brook and Vasso, having finished his supper
of hot corn-meal porridge and cold red beans,
leaned back to roll a funnel-shaped cigarette, the
children told him about Gogi's golden fleece.
Father Vasso did not laugh at their story or
call them foolish. He did not even smile. He just
listened seriously, finished rolling his fat cigarette,
and lighted it from a glowing coal which Keto
handed him on a little piece of bark from the open
kitchen fire. Perhaps Vasso remembered the first
THE GOLDEN FLEECE 165
time he had heard from someone the story of the
Fleece of Gold and his own bitter disappointment
when he found no yellow grains in the skin which
he had pegged to the brook bottom with so much
hope. Surely he remembered, for the words which
he now spoke to his son were the same which a
wise old man had spoken to him in his hour of
"Perhaps," ventured Gogi, "the gold has all
"Gold has been taken and gold has been given,"
replied his father. "Gold of one sort was taken
and gold of another and better sort given in its
"The gold which you sought is evil gold. It
brought much trouble to our people. We have
a saying: *Easy to get, but hard to hold.' So it
was with this gold. A man had but to put his
sheepskin on the bottom of a stream at flood time
and, lo, after a few days it was heavy with yellow
gold. Greedy neighbors came to steal the gold
and the finders fought to keep it. It was seldom
in those days that a man lived long enough to
become gray-headed. Many young men died in
battle before they had beards on their chins. We
became a nation of warriors, always fighting to
166 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
keep our gold. But fight or not the gold was lost."
"Did the outlanders take the gold from us?"
"The outlanders, especially the Greeks, took
much of it, but much was spent in the very fight
to keep it. Gold became scarcer and scarcer, and
now there is very little to be found. In some
streams the men of the mountains still peg their
fleeces to catch the gold, but they find very little.
Perhaps there is no more gold in the mountains;
perhaps the rivers and brooks no longer flow in
the same beds. Their courses may have changed
so that their waters do not wash through the rich
earth that holds the gold."
"But what is the other gold. Father-heart?'*
asked Keto. "What is the gold which was given
"I am about to tell of that," answered Vasso.
"That gold is the good gold. It is good and brings
"Even when our land was filled with gold we
suffered. The stony slopes of our mountains grew
but little wheat. In times of peace our gold went
for bread and in times of war our people died
of hunger, gold or no gold. Because of the want
THE GOLDEN FLEECE 167
of bread we were often forced to make peace at
a great sacrifice with our hostile neighbors. Our
men were fighting much of the time, but even
when they were at home they could not with all
their labor make the scrubby wheat grow much
higher than sheep's grass on the land that we
have. It seemed that everything grew well — fruit,
nuts, the grape — everything but wheat.
"Then it was that we got our gold returned
from the West. The greedy Westerners, when
they could find nothing more to take from us in the
East, turned about and sought riches in the far
West. In the West they found even more gold
than that which had been ours, but they also found
that which is even dearer to us than pure gold —
they found Indian maize.
"Indian maize and tobacco — that is the gold
which we got from the West in return for the
gold which they took from us. Grain that will
grow in every crook and crevice of our mountain
home and tobacco that gives us all we want for
our own use with loads to sell to others.
"Now we no longer fear famine and want. We
shall never be hungry again. We have the gold
of another sort. True, it cannot be had by casting
a woolly skin into a brook. One must work; the
168 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
earth must be turned, the seed planted, the stalk
tended, and the harvest gathered with labor.
"The other gold was 'easy to get, but hard to
keep'; this golden grain that we eat and Uve by-
is 'harder to get but easier to keep.' "
Gogi had forgotten his disappointment by the
time his father brought his story to an end, and
at the last words he looked up with a smile and
"The next time I go to seek gold with skins
the skins wiU be on the broad backs of our two
black water buffaloes, Rustam and Nazira, or
on my two hands that grasp the plow handles."
Games and Nuts
AI-MI'' cried Keto, as she rubbed her
bruised knuckles. *'I have forgotten how this
game is played with sitting in the house all winter.
That is the third time my stone has come down
on my hand this morning."
"You should be a boy and play knucklebones,"
said her brother Gogi, laughing a little at her
mishap, for it was not his hand that smarted.
Keto had been playing a game very much like
"jacks," but in place of a bouncing rubber ball
and little iron men she used a handful of little
shells which the natlia had sent her from the sea-
shore and a hard round stone. The stone, of course.
170 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
would not bounce like a ball of rubber, so she
was forced to toss it into the air, grab up the shells,
one, two, three or more, and twist her hand back
in time to catch the f alHng stone. Sometimes Keto
fumbled a shell in her grab at them or was a little
too slow in turning her hand. When this was the
case she got a sound crack on her knuckles from
the hard stone that was sure to make them ache
for a while.
Gogi would have been ashamed to play at
"jacks," for he thought it a girls' game, but Keto,
like most girls, was wilUng enough to play his
boys' game with him.
"Where are your bones?" she asked her
Gogi dug down into the pocket of his baggy
homespun breeches, and when he brought his
hand out he held in it a half dozen knucklebones
— ^little roundish bones from the legs of sheep. He
divided the bones with his sister and they each
picked a firm smooth bone for a "taw."
Keto and Gogi were sitting on what they called
the maranni. All that could be seen of the mar-
anni was a smooth square of hard-packed earth
on which not a blade of grass grew, although the
ground all about was green. The maranni is the
GAMES AND NUTS 171
spot in which the great earthen wine jars are
buried while the wine is being cured. Grass is not
allowed to grow on that spot, for one is always
either digging another jar into the earth or tak-
ing one out to supply wine for some feast day.
Some of these jars are big enough to hold a large
cow, and many Gurians have jars in their mar an--
nis which have been in the ground for years and
Gogi drew a small circle in the clay surface of
the maranni with a twig and placed one of his
bones in the ring. Keto also placed a bone in the
circle and they stepped back to play. It was very
much like a game of marbles or *'immies" played
with bones. The bones, however, were not quite
round as marbles are and for that reason were
thrown and not rolled.
The game was to either bang a bone out of
the ring or "kill" the other fellow's '^taw." When
a player lifted up his "taw" to make a shot, he
drew a line in the dirt where it had lain. He could
swing his arm as far back of the line as he wished,
but if he went over it in throwing his "taw"
it was "fudging" and he was fined a bone.
"You have won all my bones," wailed Keto
before the game had fairly commenced.
172 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
*'Here," said her brother, who was anxious for
her to play a httle longer with him, "I will give
you some more. Is it not a better game than play-
ing at 'stones'?"
"The game," said Keto, "is not nearly so nice,
but I haven't hurt my hand in this game. It is
not always the boys' games which are the rough-
"Let us play 'Ups and Downs'," said Gogi,
when he noticed that his sister was beginning to
tire of playing at a game in which she could not
"We shall play for filbert nuts," said Keto,
agreeing to the new game. "You have only a few
bones and I soon lose my share. We can have as
many nuts as we wish." And Keto ran to her
'mother to beg a double handful of smooth, brown
"Mother did not give me so many, after all,"
complained Keto when she returned. "The box
where she keeps the nuts is almost empty."
"We shall soon have fresh nuts," said Gogi.
"I was in the wodds yesterday and the green,
feathery tufts that cover the nuts are turning
"The pigs know that the nuts are ripening,
GAMES AND NUTS 173
too," his sister added. "They wander all day in
the thickets and never come home in the middle
of the day as they did when there was less to eat
in the woods."
"Aye, and we shall soon have fun with the pigs,"
said Gogi, thinking of the sport to be had in play-
ing tag with the snorting, greedy beasts in the
"Let us go now to the woods," begged Keto.
"Perhaps we shall be able to find enough ripe
nuts for our game."
"Good!" agreed her brother, and hand in hand
they dashed down the slope of the yard, past the
little log kitchen to the bank of the shallow brook.
"Oh!" exclaimed Keto in pained surprise, when
she saw the muddy torrent that rushed madly
along between the narrow banks. "Surely this
dirty water is not our lovely brooklet ! See, it has
hidden our stepping stones. It is far too deep for
us to cross."
"It is raining in the high places," her brother
explained, "and as a consequence our brook is
having a hard time carrying all the water away.
It will soon go down. It is not nearly so deep to-
day as it was yesterday. Do you see the little tufts
of leaves and dried grass that are hanging on the
174 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
roots and rocks above the water? That is where the
brook come to a few days ago. As it goes down it
leaves these marks to show the heights that it
reached. I, too, have made a mark for the brook.
I have cut a notch in the log that stands in the
brook to hold up the corner of the mill. Every
year I make a mark. Perhaps I shall one day make
a mark higher than the one which Grandfather
left when he was a boy. That year the water came
so high that the kitchen was washed away and
Grandfather's notch comes at the very top of the
log — almost to the floor of the grist mill.^'
"But how are we going to cross?" asked Keto,
anxious to change the subject, for she was a lit-
tle frightened to hear these tales of high water
and kitchens being washed away.
"We must follow the brook down to the mill
and cross on the log," replied Gogi.
Keto and Gogi walked along the bank of the
brook until they came to the old mill perched on
its long legs high above the flooded streamlet. It
stood on the farther bank and from its open door
a huge log of wood stretched out like a bridge
over the brook.
Gogi slipped off his wooden sandals and in his
GAMES AND NUTS 175
wool-stockinged feet walked across the crude
bridge without a waver. When he reached the
rough floor of the mill he turned and motioned to
Keto to follow. "Come," he urged. "You have
crossed it before."
True, Keto had crossed it before, but never
when the water was so high. As she stepped gin-
gerly out onto the shppery log she glanced down
at the swollen brook below. Keto was not afraid
of high places ; she had followed the sheep on their
mountain paths, she had climbed high trees ; but
this was something diflferent. The muddy water
that rushed beneath her hesitating feet seemed
greedy, angry, and she was frightened. She saw
how it threw itself at the clay banks and swirled
back in foaming eddies, how it wrapped itself
about the long legs of the old mill as though it
wished to tear them from its path.
What was it that Gogi had said? The brook
had a hard time to take care of all the water that
came from the mountain tops. "That is it,"
thought Keto. "The brook is not really angry; it
is busy. It is hastening to carry the water down to
the river and on to the sea."
To Keto the swirling water seemed no longer
176 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
terrible; the loud gurglings about the logs and
the hissing swishings against the clay banks were
no longer threatening. The brook was very busy
and as it labored it sang a merry song — a working
song such as Nina sang when she sat before her
loom to weave, or such as father Vasso shouted
as he followed the heavy plow and the sleepy buf-
faloes. Holding her sandals in one hand and lift-
ing her skirts with the other, Keto walked firmly
over the log to the farther side and stood beside
Brother and sister stepped from the platform
of the silent mill and entered the wood that lay
before them. Between the black trunks of the
taller trees grew thorny clumps of alutcha, the
sour Caucasian wild plum, and here and there a
lighter blotch of green showed the presence of
a filbert tree.
"Look!" cried Keto. "The greedy pigs have
been before us !
She pointed, as she spoke, to one of the filbert
shrubs, and Gogi saw that the soft earth all about
the clump had been plowed and turned into a
cloddy black circle by dozens of sharp hoofs and
searching, pointed snouts. From the depths of
GAMES AND NUTS 177
the thickets came an occasional snort or porkish
"Abba! Ugly face," shouted Gogi to the hid-
den pig. "You may eat in peace to-day, for we
hurry. But beware when we come another time,
for we shall give you the run of your life !"
Keto untied her apron and spread it on the
ground beneath the tree. Gogi hunted about and
found a long stick with a fork on the end with
which he pulled the green boughs down within
The tender nuts grew in clusters of three and
fairly covered the parent tree, but they were not
all ripe. Each nut was enveloped in a thin husk
that opened out at the top into four feathered
petals Hke a pale green blossom. Some of the
husks had turned slightly yellowish where they
curved around the smooth side of the nut, and
these were the ones that were ripe for picking.
As Keto and Gogi picked they also ate, for
the filbert is never so sweet as when it is still a
little green. It is then that the meat fills the
soft shell as full as can be and the goody is soft
and milky and easy to chew.
"Enough!" said Gogi, and let the limb which
he held in his long crotched stick slip out and fly
178 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
back into place. "We have filled your apron and
there is no need to gather nuts and leave them
for the pigs to eat. They steal too many as it is."
"Let us go home and give some to Mother,"
suggested Keto. "She will be glad to have a taste
of the new nuts."
"Good," agreed her brother. "Perhaps she will
kill a chicken and make a dish of tsutsivi with a
sauce from fresh filberts. We can play 'Ups and
Downs' with those left over."
This time Keto was not afraid of the roaring
brook and soon they were back on the flat grass-
less square of the maranni playing at the game of
"Ups and Downs."
Each in turn would take a knucklebone between
thumb and forefinger and give it a fiUip onto the
smooth soil of the maranni. If it fell, as it usually
did, on its flat side the player got nothing, but
if it stood up on end the player won ten filbert
nuts. It was very difficult to make the little bone
stand on end, but sometimes it fell on edge and
that meant five nuts to the lucky one who had
This was a very exciting game. Even the men
liked to play at i% and Gogi and Keto tossed the
GAMES AND NUTS 179
tiny knucklebone back and forth until their play
was interrupted by a loud squawking near the
kitchen by the brook.
"Hark!" said Gogi. "I was right. Mother-
heart is kilHng a chicken! Vasha^ vasha! We shall
have tsutsivi to-day. Tsutsivi with nut sauce from
fresh filberts! Hurrah!"
Gogi leaped to his feet, scattering feathered
filbert nuts right and left from his lap, and raced
away toward the kitchen to watch his mother pre-
pare his favorite dish.
Keto lingered behind to gather the nuts to-
gether, and as she scooped and scraped them back
into her apron she seemed a little angry.
"Just like a boy," thought she, "to go racing
off when he begins to lose."
Among the nuts which she had swept into a
pile she saw something round and white. She
picked it up ; it was her "jack" stone. Keto tossed
the stone into the air several times and caught it
deftly as it fell. She tossed the stone again and
as her hand turned to catch it she held a round
filbert nut in her open palm.
"Ones!" said Keto, and tossed the stone again.
This time as the stone came down her hand held
180 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"Twos!" said Keto, and forgot that boys were
such poor playmates sometimes.
"Squawk, squawk!" cried the chicken behind
"Threes !" said Keto, and tossed the hard, round
E ARE going to have a visitor," said Keto
to her corncob doll. "Old Pasha is bowing to us;
when a dog bows guests are certain to follow
The corncob doll did not answer; it just gazed
with silly eyes from under its shocky wig of silk
yarn, but the guest came. His appearance sent
Keto flying to warn her mother.
"Hi, Z)^da-heart, the potter comes," she
shouted. And Nina came from the kitchen to bid
182 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
him welcome, for in Guria any visitor that comes
to the house is counted a guest. That he happens
to be a trader and has goods to sell does not les-
sen his welcome.
The potter was a man stooped with age; and
his old shoulders were bent still lower by reason
of the great weight of his wares which he carried
in a wicker basket strapped to his back. Two
similar baskets were slung athwart a tiny burro
which he drove before him with occasional soft
prods of a stout traveler's staff.
The potter knew well the house of Vasso, and
when he neared the gate he shouted, "Ho-a, ho-a,"
to his little beast, and shoving hard on the oflf
basket, he turned him into the yard. The potter
gave pohte greeting to Nina and her daughter
and slipped his pack from his back. The burro
"hee-hawed" a greeting to the animals which he
smelled in the barn across the yard, and imme-
diately set about munching the long sweet grass
that grew before the house.
''Welcome and rest thee," said Nina to the
trader, and Keto poured water for his dusty tired
hands. ''Rest and eat, for I have a thing to tell
you that may spoil your appetite if you hear it
before a meal."
THE POTTER 183
The potter guessed from Nina's words that she
had found a bad pot among the last which she
had bought from him, and he was troubled. He
was not averse to giving a customer another pot
for a bad one, but he was very proud of his work
and felt shame for a poor pot or jar.
"What is at fault, O Woman of the House?"
inquired he of Keto's mother. "Have I sold you
a bad pot, or is it a hoki for water, perhaps?"
"It is neither," answered Nina. "You gave me
a poor tchadi stone which split the second time it
was placed in the fire. When guests came and
much tchadi was needed I was forced to bake my
corn meal in an iron pan, and everyone knows
that tchadi baked in an iron pan is not nearly so
good as that from a stone tchadi dish of fine stone."
"I am pleased that it is not a pot or koki/^ said
the potter. "Poor pots mean a poor potter, but
the best of eyes cannot see a weak spot in the
depths of a slab of stone. When I carve the tchadi
stones from a sohd slab only the rotten spots that
are on the outside can be seen."
"That is true and I do not blame you," said
Nina. "I am only very sorry that my guests have
been given so much poor bread since the stone
cracked. I have still one old stone and I shall
184 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
buy two new ones this time ; if one breaks I shaE
still be left with a pair."
"You shall have them and try them while I am
yet here," said the old potter. He hastened to
where his burro was grazing and fetched two
heavy dishes carved from clean gray stone. "Make
your 'noon bread' in these," he begged. "Let us
see how they will stand the heat."
Keto accepted the two stone dishes from the
old man and placed them carefully in the open
kitchen fire bottom upward. Nina had brought
the potter to the kitchen, and he sat on a low
bench against the log wall and gave them all the
news from miles around. Not a yard had a new
colt or a house a new roof but the old wanderer
knew of it, and it was part of his job to pass this
gossip on to all that he visited in the course of
his journeying. It was a pleasure both to him and
to those he visited.
While the dishes were heating Keto dipped a
smaU wooden bowl of corn meal from the round
wooden drum that stood in the corner of the room.
She pounded a few coarse lumps of rock salt into
fine powder and sprinkled it over the meal. She
dipped a gourdf ul of boiling water from the great
iron pot that hung over the fire and poured it
THE POTTER 185
over the meal. When the meal had steeped well
and had grown cool enough to knead, Keto mixed
it thoroughly with her fingers and patted the
dough into the two dishes which she now dragged,
hot from the fire. Over the tchadi dishes Keto
placed sheets of iron and shoved them into the
ashes near the fire. Over the iron covers she sprin-
kled embers and more ashes, and left the bread
At noontime Vasso and Gogi came from their
work — Vasso from the woods where he had been
chopping a tree with the right sort of bend for
a new buffalo yoke, and Gogi from the tobacco
patch where he had been hunting out and killing
the tobacco worms that eat the broad green to-
bacco leaves. Father and son exchanged greetings
with the guest-trader and after they had washed
they sat down to hear their share of his gossip
while waiting for the corn bread that was steam-
ing and browning in the new tchadi stones.
"Blessings on your bread and salt," said the
potter, when Keto dumped the fresh bread, baked
to a rich golden brown, onto the crude table. "My
stones are good — none better," he continued, "but
more than a good stone is needed to bake such a
tchadi as this."
1B6 NOAH^S GRANDCHILDREN,
"A good appetite to you," replied Keto, blush-
ing with pleasure at the old man's praise.
Vasso broke the bread with quick snaps, for
it was very hot, and placed a steaming chunk
before each eater. "Eat, if it please you," said
he to the potter, shoving his clasp knife in his
direction so that the guest might cut himself a
slice of the cheese that lay on the table beside a
pot of rehsh made from green plums and red
The meal completed, the potter spread the
wares which he carried in his basket on the hard-
packed earthen floor of the kitchen. Deep bowls
and shallow bowls, squat jugs and goose-necked
water hokis, wide-mouthed jars and tiny drink-
ing jugs called tchintchari stood in tempting ar-
ray before the eyes of the admiring family. Some
were glazed, some were plain, and still others
were decorated with streaks of gay colors that
gave their dull red sides a holiday glitter.
"Where do you find the clay of which you make
these pretty blue bowls?" Keto asked the potter.
She held in her hand one of the smooth glazed
articles and rail a curious finger over its glassy
"I find the clay for the pots in the country
THE POTTER 187
around the village of Gori," said the trader. "But
the smooth blues and greens are put on over the
red clay of the pots before I bake them. That
is a secret of my trade which my father taught
me when I was a boy. Every potter has such
secrets for glazing and coloring which he guards
jealously and passes to no one but a son or close
kinsman. If others learned the secrets they would
make their own pots and we would lose our piece
"I have been to Gori with my father to buy
cider apples," said Gogi, *'and all the clay we saw
was greenish white and sticky. Once it was rainy
and our cartwheels bogged to their axles in the
roads. How can you make red pots of white
"That is no secret," replied the potter, laugh-
ing. "I can tell you that. The clay is white when
the pots are made, but it has iron in it. In the
heat of the fire, when the pots are baked, the iron
turns red. That is why I have red ware. If the
clay had no iron it would not turn red and no pot-
ter would use it for pots then. Clay which does
not turn red in the fire is very scarce and when
it is found it is used for making chinaware such
as rich people have on their tables,"
188 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"That is true," agreed father Vasso. "I have
seen them making tile and bricks in the clay pits
at Gori; they go into the ovens white and come
"I have never seen such beautiful tchintcharisf'
exclaimed Keto, picking up one of the tiny drink-
A tchintchari is a small ewer with a body no
larger than a lemon and a neck about six inches
long that flares out at the top. They are used
for drinking toasts on feast days when the whole
family is toasted. The toast is passed to the
drinker on a tray that holds a tiny tchintchari for
every member of the family which is being hon-
ored. Tchintcharis are often given away after
the toasts. Sometimes when the toast has been
made on a very important occasion the little jugs
are shattered on the edge of the tables as they
are emptied. That is good business for the potter.
''Tchintcharis we need," said Nina, and she
picked from the rows several little jugs that
pleased her best in color and shape, and examined
them closely for rough spots and cracks. "I shall
have these," she added, when she had satisfied
herself that they were flawless.
"The tchadi stones are good, mother-heart,"
THE POTTER 189
said Keto, and she offered the newly bought stone
bread dishes for her mother's approval. They were
now quite cool and Nina took them in her hands
and looked them over well before she nodded her
head in assent.
"The tchadi stones and tcJiintcJiaris are all that
I need," said she, turning to her husband. "Is
there naught that you wish?"
"If St. Nina guards our grapes," he answered,
"we shall need another tchani to hold our wine
this fall." Turning to the potter, he asked, "What
will a tchani of sixty buckets cost me, neighbor?"
By "a tchani of sixty buckets" Vasso meant
a huge earthen jar such as are sunk in the ground
of the maranni, to hold sixty buckets of wine. A
bucket is about five gallons.
The potter, of course, understood and after a
moment's thought he said, "Such a tchani will cost
you three pieces of Turkish gold if you come to
Gori and take it from my yard in your own cart."
Three pieces of Turkish gold seemed a great
deal of money to the hard-working Vasso, and
he said so. He and the potter haggled back and
forth until the latter agreed to let him have the
wine jar for two pieces of Turkish gold and five
190 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
buckets of red wine to be delivered when Vasso
came for his jars.
Vasso and the potter struck hands to bind the
deal, and the potter arose and prepared to make
his departure. He repacked his unsold wares in
the shoulder basket which he lifted to his back
with Gogi's aid, and giving thanks to Nina for
her hospitality, he bade the family farewell and
went out to seek his burro.
At first the little beast was nowhere to be seen,
but Gogi, who had followed the guest into the
yard, soon discovered him.
"He is in the garden — ^the rascal," Gogi
shouted. "He got through the hedge, baskets and
When the potter joined Gogi he saw his burro
kneeling on the soft earth of the turnip bed calmly
munching the tops from the turnips and taking
a nibble now and then to flavor his repast from
the yellow saffron blossoms that grew between
"Ho — Bairam — ^Up! Up I" his master urged
him, but the donkey paid him no heed other than
a stubborn shake of his long-eared head. Nor did
he rise until the potter, with Gogi's help, lifted
the heavy baskets, burro and all, from the ground.
THE POTTER 191
Once on his feet, however, he responded to his
old master's cries and minced along the path be-
fore him with short prim steps.
"He is not even ashamed of his naughtiness,"
laughed Gogi, as he waved the old potter a good-
The erring burro, Bairam, a long green turnip
leaf still dangling from his busy jaws, trod stiflP-
legged down the road with his swaying load, his
master close behind. The potter was following
his beast with loud scoldings for his thieving, and
as Gogi ran toward the little log kitchen to tell
Keto about it all, he thought he heard the burro
give a soft "he-haw."
OGOOOO! , . . Gogoooo!"
When a person is called to in Georgia his name
is always made to end in an "o." So when Gogi
heard the shout he knew that he was being called.
His heart jumped, for he thought he recognized
the voice, and dropping the little stick with which
he had been helping the worker bees kill the lazy,
useless drones which they thrust from the depths
of their hollow log hive, he hastened to the front
of the house to answer.
At the gate that led onto the road stood a sturdy
youth in a scarlet blouse. It was Vanno, the
son of big Grigo the blacksmith — Vanno the
wrestler; and he hailed his young friend with
another hearty shout:
"Victory to Gogi and long life!"
"To you victory, Vanno-heart ; and may your
trouble be on my head," answered Gogi, giving
his hand into the strong, horny palm of the
smith's son. "Welcome to my father's roof."
"I thank you for your welcome," replied
Vanno, "but I cannot stop."
Gogi's face fell and his smile disappeared with
disappointment on hearing the big lad's words,
"What!" he cried. "Have you come from your
work in Batum only to return so soon?"
"No," replied Vanno. "Perhaps I shall not re-
turn to Batum. Your natlia has closed his busi-
ness there. Has he not written you of this?"
"We have heard nothing," said Gogi. "But tell
me, then. Why are you in such haste to-day?"
"I am but on my way to the house of the priest
in Ozerget. He wishes me to repair the iron grille
before the church and I stopped, hoping that
you would care to go with me."
Gogi's smile returned in a moment. "That will
be fun," he cried. "Just wait until I tell Mother
194 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
and Keto. I am sure that Mother will let me go
Gogi was right. Nina willingly permitted him
to go with Vanno and both she and Keto came
out of the house to greet the smith's son and give
him their respects to be carried to the old priest
in the village church.
"Can I not carry some of your tools?" begged
Gogi, pointing to what seemed to be a bag on
Vanno looked surprised for a second and then
he laughed loudly. "The tool I have on my arm,
Gogi-heart, is one that can carry itself," he
"What sort of tool is this, Vanno?" asked the
"You shall see for yourself," returned the
smith's son, and as he spoke he turned back the
edge of the cloth that covered the bundle on his
left arm. Gogi's eyes popped with wonderment
as the folds were raised.
The bigger boy's hand was incased in a heavy
leather glove that covered his wrist and forearm
as well, and gripping the glove at the wrist were
half a dozen wicked, long, black claws on the
ends of as many slender, pale golden-yellow toes.
"A hunting falcon!" shouted Gogi. "A sharp
"His name is Hassan," said Vanno. "I have
trained him all this spring. I'll wager there is
no better hawk in all Guria. But that we shall
see, for we shall hunt with him along the road."
"How does one hunt with a falcon, Vanno? I
never hunted with one," Gogi said.
"I shall teach you," replied Vanno. "You will
"It will be fun to learn," said Gogi gladly.
"Perhaps I shall have one of my very own some
"Perhaps," agreed Vanno, and smiled, though
Gogi could see nothing to smile about.
"Ssssshhh!" whispered Vanno as they came to
a turn in the road where a dense thicket grew.
"There should be wood snipe in those bushes."
"Find a good stone to throw in the shrubbery,"
said Vanno, taking the cover from the hawk. The
bird eased his white-breasted form and wriggled
his long toes on the wrist that held him.
"Look!" cried Gogi. "He knows that some-
thing is about to happen."
The bird's head was still covered with a little
hood of black velvet and it could, of course, see
196 NOAH^S GRANDCHILDREN
nothing, but freedom of the cover told him that
the fun was about to start. As a further signal
Vanno stroked the velvet hood as though he were
about to take it off also. The hawk poised and bal-
anced on his wrist.
"Throw the stone when I snatch the hood off,"
Gogi watched the smith's son closely. Vanno
approached the brush with stealthy step and
gazed into its tangled depths. Apparently satis-
fied that it contained birds, he made a warning
motion to Gogi and sUpped the velvet hood from
the head of his falcon. Gogi cast his stone.
The hawk rose straight from his master's wrist,
and as the stone crashed into the thicket there
came an answering rustle and a brace of wood
snipe fluttered up into the open air above the
bushes. Almost without a waver the little hawk
launched his powerful body after the two birds.
His strong wings thrashed back and forth and
like a streak of black lightning he struck.
The unfortunate snipe uttered a faint squeak
of pain or fear, a handful of feathers flew from
its body like a little flurry of snow, and the hawk
settled to the ground with his capture a score of
paces beyond the thicket.
"Come!" cried Vanno excitedly. "A kill — a
kill! Hassan has got his quarry!"
Gogi was equally stirred and ran with all his
might to keep abreast of his older companion.
When the two boys came up the hawk was about
to begin his feast on the dead wood snipe.
Vanno stepped swiftly to the side of his falcon
and grasped the kill with his gloved hand. The
sharp talons of the hawk still held the bird in their
clutches and his yellow legs stuck up from be-
tween Vanno's leather-covered fingers. The hawk,
looking down, could not see his prey, since it was
hidden under the glove, but what he did see was
a tiny chunk of raw meat which Vanno proffered
in his free hand. The hawk accepted the morsel
of flesh and settled himself again on Vanno's
wrist. As he swallowed his reward Vanno sUpped
the httle velvet hood back onto his sharp, hook-
beaked head. The falcon was satisfied and Vanno
had the bird, which he slung at his back by pull-
ing its head under the strap of his tightly belted
It all happened so swiftly that Gogi was not
quite sure that it had really happened, but the
proof hung at Vanno's belt. "Vasha!" he shouted.
"This is prime sport!"
198 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"It is called the sport of kings," said Vanno.
"A kingly sport, indeed," agreed Gogi. "Let
us go farther."
A second bird was caught, and a third. Once
when the hawk was released no birds flew from
the thicket into which Gogi had cast his stone.
"Vai-mi!" said Vanno disgustedly, "that is
bad. It is not good to fool the hawk. A few slips
like that one and he will lose his eagerness. We
must be careful."
"You had trouble getting him back onto your
wrist, too," noticed Gogi.
When the two boys arrived at the house of the
priest in Ozerget they had collected half a dozen
birds. Vanno's belt was filled with the game and
the hawk's craw was so stuffed with his gifts of
raw meat that he looked like a pouter pigeon.
The old priest was delighted to see the boys,
for he was very anxious to have the church grille
fixed, and the brace of wood snipe which Vanno
gave to him from the string at his belt made them
doubly welcome, for priests do not always have
too much to eat in their houses.
With his skillful hands, Vanno made short
work of the broken grille. A rivet here and a rivet
there soon made it as sound and strong as ever,
and the boys went into the priest's tiny house to
eat a meal with the old man and gather news
for the folks at home.
The priest's house was much the same as any
other, Gogi noticed, excepting, perhaps, that the
rooms contained a few more holy pictures or
icons in the corners. At home without his golden
vestments the priest did not seem so terrifying
to Gogi as he did on ceremonial days in the church.
At home he was just a smiling, kindly old man
who knew how to talk with them about their crops
of corn and their bees and their silk or tobacco.
His face was rather sad, perhaps because he
had heard the troubles of so many unfortunate
people. Or perhaps it was because he was lonely.
The priest's wife was dead and he had no children
of his own. A priest of the Georgian Orthodox
Church marries before he enters the church, and
if his wife dies later he is not allowed to marry
again. There is a saying in Georgia: "There is
another of everything but a priest's wife."
In the afternoon Vanno and Gogi set out on
their homeward trip. The sun was in their eyes
as they traveled, and since they had no time to
200 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
circle each clump of trees, they were unable to
hunt the falcon.
"It is a pity," worried Vanno, "that we have
not a few more birds. Four wood snipe will not
make much of a meal for a family."
Gogi did not answer Vanno. His shorter legs
had caused him to be always a little behind his
older companion so that the poor disheveled bodies
of the four dead birds had been before his eyes
much of the time. Gogi wondered if it was such
a kingly sport after all. He thought of all the
hawks that soared free and unhooded in the air
and wondered how many birds they slaughtered
each day. Song birds, too, they would kill. To
them it made no difference — ^just another bloody
feed. Gogi began to be ashamed of himself for his
share in the morning's hunt.
At dusk the pair reached Gogi's home and they
stood a while at the gate. Vanno seemed to wish
to say something and Gogi was still thinking of
the poor dead birds.
At last Vanno said, "Here, take Hassan on
your hand. He is yours if you wish him."
When Gogi got over his surprise, his first
thought was to tell Vanno that he did not want
**But/' thought he, "that will only offend
Vanno, who, after all, is only trying his best to
Aloud he said, "I thank you, Vanno-heart. I
shall look after him well. And I shall never for-
get our morning's hunt together."
Having said what he had tried so long to say,
Vanno turned to leave. In parting he warned
Gogi, "Give Hassan always raw meat to eat or
he will lose his taste for fresh kills. Let him have
the head or foot of a bird sometimes as I did this
morning. And take him hunting as often as you
are able. That will keep him in good training. . . .
"A good road to you, Vanno-heart, and thank
you again," cried Gogi after the vanishing form
of the blacksmith's son. But as he entered his own
yard he looked at his hooded gift almost as
though he hated it.
Gogi fastened the falcon to a post of the porch
by a long string that gave him room to fly out
in quite a big circle for exercise. He slipped the
hood from the sleek head with its button eyes and
wicked beak and said, before leaving him, "You
have killed your last bird, Hassan. But in return
you will never have to wear a hood again. You
m^ NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
will always see the bright sunlight. I would turn
you loose, but you would only do harm."
The bird gazed at a passing chicken with a
searching eye that made Gogi add, "And you
shall eat boiled beans and corn bread in the
Departure for Tiflis
S THE summer waned in Guria the grapes
grew full and heavy on their parent vines and
the corn tops yellowed. The saffron blossoms
blazed in their wonderful color from the drying
stems of their already leafless stalks. Wine press
and treading trough of hollow log had been thor-
oughly scoured, the marannt had been opened
and the empty tchanis washed and smoked with
burning sulphur to kill the germs that sour the
wine. Harvest time was at hand.
^04 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
A neighbor returning from Batum had
brought with him a letter to Vasso from the natlia
in the city. The family had finished their frugal
meal of corn bread and red beans boiled with
dried sour plums, and Vasso prepared to read
the letter by the light of a splinter which Keto
had lighted in the open fire of the log kitchen
and now held aloft. All awaited with interest to
hear what the natlia had to say. The neighbor
who had brought the letter had eaten with Vasso
and his family and now he lingered so that he,
too, might learn what news it was that the natlia
"The natlia sends news, indeed," said Vasso,
spelling the words out letter by letter, for Vasso
had had but little schooling. The Russians who
conquered the Caucasus and Georgia did not care
for their subjects learning a deal. They built few
schools, and in those that they built they did not
permit the children to learn their own Georgian
tongue. What Vasso knew of his own letters he
had learned from his mother and the village
priest. For a hundred years mothers and priests
had saved the rich tongue of the Karthli from
being lost forever.
Vasso continued, "The natlia writes that he is
DEPARTURE FOR TIFLIS 205
about to move his business from Batum to Tiflis.
Now that we have driven off our oppressors Tiflis
has become a busy city. The natlia is a wise man
and he knows what is best."
Gogi, who had awaited his father's reading
of the letter with a smile of pleased expectancy
on his young face, could keep silent no longer.
Tears came into his eyes and his voice shook a
little as he interrupted his father. Keto looked
at her brother and felt very sorry for him. She
knew what he was going to ask before he spoke.
"Then," said Gogi, "I cannot go to hve with
the natlia in his house and study in the school."
To Gogi the world seemed suddenly upside
down, and only by winking his eyes very fast
could he keep the tears back while he waited for
his father to spell out the next words. Nina looked
at him with sad brown eyes and Keto reached
out and touched his hand. Gogi knew that they
understood but that only made him feel all the
more like crying.
The natlia must surely have known how his
news would affect Gogi, for in the very next line
he hurried to do away with his fears. Vasso raised
his gaze from the sheet of paper to give his family
the news that followed.
206 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"The good natlia says," he continued, "that
Gogi must not worry about the change, for the
schools of Tiflis are even better than those of
The natlia wrote much more of this and that
but Gogi no longer barkened to his father's voice
as he droned out the words one by one. In a
moment all his dreams of school had been shifted
to Tiflis — Tiflis which the natlia and others who
had traveled called the Paris of the East. Tiflis,
where the iron road, driven by electricity, rattled
up and down the very streets of the city!
"Perhaps," thought Gogi happily, "I shall see
Tchuenni Noah!" He meant Noah Jordani, the
president of the Georgian Republic — that kindly
old man who had delivered his countrymen from
Russian tyranny and was known to them only
as Tchuenni Noah — Our Noah. If a few tears
still trembled on Gogi's long black lashes, they
were no longer tears of disappointment, but of
gladness. Keto edged closer to her brother.
"Oh, Gogi," she cried, "you will live in Tiflis
and eat white bread at the natlia' s table every
day! Will you have a blue uniform with shining
silver buttons such as the schoolboys whom we
saw in Batum wear?"
DEPARTURE FOR TIFLIS 207
"Of course," said Gogi, his eyes shining like
the buttons his sister spoke of. "And shoes that
shine, too, and are held with little strings on hooks
or else with white buttons; and a stiff cap with
a polished peak and a badge of silver leaves with
the letters 'T.M.G.' which stand for Tiflis Boys'
"The cap and the uniform will be nice," agreed
Keto, "but the shoes such as they wear in the city
are not for the hill people of Guria."
"The bad comes with the good," her brother
reminded her. "I shall grow used to the shoes.
Clothes cannot make city men of hill people."
"That is true," Keto said. "Uncle Kola has
worn the shoes of the city for many years, but
he does not forget that he is a Gurian of the hills."
"I shall be like Uncle Kola and the natlia/'
Gogi promised. "When I come home I shall take
off my straight trousers and wear my baggy,
roomy sharavari, and when we climb together or
chase pigs I shall put on my rawhide tchouvaki
instead of city shoes."
"They say that Tchuenni Noah, himself, wears
sharavari and tchouvaki when he visits his home
in Lantchout," said Keto.
208 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
^'Tchuenni Noah never forgets that he is a
Gurian," replied Gogi. "That is why we all love
him. He is a great man."
The time passed in happy planning between
tasks of gathering the ripened corn and the leath-
ery pods of beans whose vines twined about the
tall cornstalks that took the place of bean poles.
It was the best time of the year in Guria, and as
the day for departure drew near Gogi found him-
self sorry to leave it all. He wondered who would
climb the trees with Vasso to gather the grapes
. . . who would creep out on the farthermost
branches that were too small to hold his father.
He asked his father about the smaller branches.
"It will be hard without you, Gogi-heart," said
Vasso. "I am afraid that many bunches of grapes
will have to rot on the vines this year."
"Perhaps I might come home at the time of
the picking of the grapes," suggested Gogi.
"School is of more importance than a few
grapes," answered his father. "We shall manage.
I shall make a knife on the end of a long stick
that will reach out to the bunches on the slender
branches. Mother-Nina and Keto will stand be-
neath the tree with a sheet and catch the grapes
as I cut them down."
DEPARTURE FOR TIFLIS 209
"Why don't our Gurian grapes grow on bushes
like those in the other parts of Georgia — like the
grapes in Sveria?" sighed Gogi.
"Many years ago our grapes did grow close to
the ground," said Vasso. "That was before our
people fell under the Moslems. The Moslems
caused our grapes to become like they are."
"What did the Moslems do to our grapes?"
"They did nothing," answered her father.
"That is what caused them to climb the trees.
Moslems are forbidden by their law to make or
drink wine, so they did not train or care for the
grapevines, which soon ran wild and climbed the
trees. Grapevines in Sveria are clipped close
"But when the Moslems were driven out,"
asked Gogi, "why did our people not plant other
grapes or trim the wild ones?"
"That is because," explained Vasso, "our
people found that the wild grape gave a new kind
of wine — a wine better than the old grapes.
Gurian wine is prized very highly by those who
"Then the Moslems did some good, after all,"
210 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"That is a poor return for the harm that they
did us, Gogi-heart," Vasso responded.
"The law of the Moslem says he must not eat
pork," said Gogi. "Why did they not kill all the
pigs in Guria while they were here?"
"A Moslem despises a pig so much he will not
even kill it unless it is actually doing him some
harm," explained Vasso. "The pigs ran wild like
"Is that why we have so many wild pigs in
Guria?" asked Gogi.
"That is why," answered his father. "And that
is why the pigs that we keep at home are so much
like the wild ones — ^big heads and little bodies
and long tusks and tails."
Gogi remembered the natlia's letter. "Is it
true," he asked, "that the natlia is coming in the
autumn to hunt the wild pigs?"
"That is his wish," said Vasso. "It has been
many years since the wild pigs came so near to
the houses and villages."
Gogi's heart was lightened by the thought that
he would soon be able to visit the home folks, and
when the day came for his departure for the city of
Tiflis and the natlia' s house good-byes were easier
DEPARTURE FOR TIFLIS 211
His baggage was small — underclothes and
woolen socks which Keto and his mother, Nina,
had woven for him — for his country breeches
would be sadly out of place in the city. The
natlia would soon have a fine blue uniform for
him and all that went with it — shoes and shirt
and visored cap of blue with a silver badge.
At last everything was ready and the day had
arrived. The cart awaited Gogi at the gate of
the yard and father Vasso stood in the door of
the kitchen to hurry the women. Nina gave one
last tug at the huge knot that tied the four cor-
ners of the piece of cloth in which her son's things
were wrapped. With the back of her work-worn
hand she wiped from her brown eyes something
that looked very much like a tear. Keto was cry-
ing openly. A big lump came into Gogi's throat
when he saw their tears, and for the moment he
wished that he were not a boy so that he might
cry, too. Nina took a seat with Keto on the kitchen
bench. Vasso sat on the door seat and Gogi, tak-
ing his bundle in his lap, sat beside him. Nina and
Vasso folded their hands in their laps and sat
silently gazing on the earthen floor at their feet.
Keto and Gogi folded their hands in imitation.
They knew that this was the way that Godspeed
in NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
was given a traveler about to set out on a long
For a full minute the four sat in this manner.
They spoke not a single word and the stillness
was broken only by the sobs that sister Keto
could not choke back. To Gogi the minute seemed
like an hour, for he was dreadfully frightened
that he would cry, himself, if he were not soon
on his way. Nina arose and gave Gogi a last big
hug before she let him turn to the waiting cart.
Vasso turned away from his weeping wife and
daughter and pulled very hard at his long, silky-
Gogi scarcely understood his mother's fare-
wells. He heard her say, "God bless you, Gogi-
heart. . . . A good road. . . . May your troubles
be on my head," and somehow he found himself
sitting in the rocking cart, his bundle grasped in
his arms, and his cheeks still wet with the tears
from his mother's eyes. Vasso spoke but Uttle and
Gogi did not feel like talking.
At the station of Natonebi Vasso bought the
ticket to Tiflis and he and Gogi stood on the
little station platform and watched for the train.
People passed and bowed to Vasso, touching their
foreheads with the tips of their fingers. Some who
DEPARTURE FOR TIFLIS 213
knew him better stopped for a minute to ask
whither he traveled.
To such questions Vasso would reply proudly,
"I go on no road. It is my son whom you see here
— ^he goes to the city of Tiflis for study in the
Then the men would slap Gogi on the shoulder
and say, "Life to you, Vasso's son. May your
troubles be few!" And to Vasso they would say,
"Surely you are a proud Gurian who sends a son
to the city. There will be much news to be heard
under your roof when your son is home again."
To these hints Vasso would answer, "My roof
is your roof. My bread and salt is your bread and
salt. Come and the news shall be yours also."
The train came and Gogi climbed into the tiny,
toylike coach and, opening a window, took his
bundle from the hands of Vasso. The gong on
the station rang two bells for "make ready" and
three for "go"; the engine ahead gave a sharp
toot of the whistle and the little station began to
slip behind. The locomotive puffed sturdily to
start the long string of cars, a few of them pas-
senger coaches, but most of them freight. Clouds
of cinders shot up from the engine stack and then
wind whipped them stingingly against Gogi's
214 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
cheek as he thrust his bare head through the
window to get a last glimpse of his father.
At the side of the little station Gogi saw the
cart with the two sleepy buffaloes. The yoke had
slipped onto the animal's black horns and their
great square heads with jaws chewing their cuds
were lowered almost to the ground. Vasso stood
still on the station platform pulhng his long black
mustachios. As Gogi watched, his father groped
in the deep pocket of his baggy pants, pulled out
a ragged square of white linen, and blew his nose.
The whistle blew and the train hid itself in a deep
cut between the hills. The old familiar scene and
his father's form were lost to sight beyond a curve
of the track, but Tiflis lay before.
L-^IFE in Tiflis, during the day, was far too
exciting to let Gogi feel lonesome. Only at night
when he lay alone in the little room which the
natlia had set aside for his use did he suffer from
homesickness. The thick feather mattress, soft as
down, seemed to Gogi ten times harder than the
felt pad on his rude tdkhta at home. The quiet
216 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
of the sleeping city was not like the quiet of the
Gurian night. There was no chuckling murmur
from the little brook that flowed beside the log
kitchen at home, and no sound of barking in the
darkness as when old Pasha warned away some
four-legged thief that came too near the hen
house or kitchen larder. But the lonesomeness
of each night was soon forgotten in the adventures
of each day that followed.
Many visits were paid to the tailor shop in the
bazaar quarter of the city beyond the yellow river
Kura. One after another and row on row the tailor
shops stood side by side, for in Tiflis all shops of
a kind are close together. Gogi could always tell
a tailor shop because there were always several
huge tailors' "gooses," as their heavy irons are
called, standing before the door with their handles
and tops shoved to one side so that the charcoal
with which they were newly filled might burn
up in the open air of the street. The natlia ex-
plained that the irons, if brought in before the
coal was glowing red, would give oflf gas and
make the heads of the tailors ache so that they
could not work.
The shop where the natlia had ordered Gogi's
uniform was owned by an Armenian — most of
the tailors were Armenians — and it was so dark
and dingy that he wondered how anyone could
possibly work in such a hole. Working they were,
for all that. As Gogi's eyes became accustomed
to the murk he saw that the room was almost
filled with huge broad tables. On each table sat
a tailor, and sometimes two. Every man had his
feet drawn closely under him and was stooped
low over some garment on which he sewed busily.
Over every neck hung a little hank of thread
cut the right length and all ready to be slipped
into the needles when needed. One man as Gogi
watched spread the coat he was sewing over a
little padded, coffin-shaped box and covered it
with a fragment of thick canvas. He then took
a big swig of water from an earthen jug that
stood on the table besidle him and spluttered
the water from his mouth over the canvas. Next
he rubbed the whole with a tiny chunk of soap
and began to iron it with a "goose" which an
errand boy fetched on his call. Great clouds of
damp steam came hissing from beneath the hot
iron, and as they were wafted to Gogi's nostrils
he recognized what it was that gave the shop the
strange odor which he had noticed when he first
218 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
On their first visit they were welcomed to the
shop by the Armenian owner. He sat always on
the table nearest the door, from which he jumped
as soon as ever a customer entered. He, too, car-
ried the hank of thread around his fat neck, but
besides the thread he had also a measuring tape.
His sly gaze took in his new customers at once,
and when Gogi and the natlia arrived he guessed
straightway, "A city godfather comes with his
country godchild to prepare him for the city
school." It was not the first time he had seen such
a pair, and he rubbed his hands in pleasant ex-
pectation, for he knew that it meant at least a
uniform and a long greatcoat. "Welcome, Lord-
heart, welcome," said he. *'You are fortunate in
finding me, for I am the best tailor in Tiflis."
This bragging seemed very impohte to Gogi
but the natlia only smiled good-naturedly, for he
knew that it was the custom of aU Armenian
tradesmen. He had done business with their sly
The master tailor pulled bolts of fine cloth
from broad shelves that were built in beneath
the tables and unrolled them so that Gogi and
the natlia might make their choice of shade and
texture. All the time he kept up a chatter — what
a fine tailor he was — what fine goods he sold —
how cheap his prices were. If the natlia heard he
showed no sign of it. He felt one piece of cloth
and another, rubbed them between finger and
thumb, held them to the light, smelled them, and
even tried one or two with a match flame to see
if they were pure wool as the man claimed. At
last he chose a piece and then began the haggle
with the tailor about the price. That in turn was
settled and the tailor began his measurements.
"Hold up your arms, Lord-heart," aid the
tailor to Gogi. Gogi held his hands over his head.
The tailor took the measuring tape from his
neck and began to swing it about Gogi's erect
body. The tape was weighted on one end with a
brass ring and in the tailor's hands it seemed al-
most alive. It writhed and twisted hke a slender
snake — around his waist, aroimd his chest, down
his back, down his leg, and across his shoulders.
The tailor carefully checked oflp each length with
his broad thumb and shouted the figure to an
assistant, who jotted them down with a piece of
hard soap on the bolt of blue cloth which the natlia
had chosen for the uniform.
Gogi was glad when he was allowed to drop
his tired arms, slip on his discarded peasant
no NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
jacket, and get out of the stuffy shop into the
sweeter air of the street. The natlia, too, took a
deep breath as though he were equally glad. The
tailor bowed them out, and as they left murmured
something about a fitting in two days.
"And now for a cap," said the natlia, taking
Gogi by the arm and leading farther along the
narrow street. "The hatters are just beyond and
hats are ready made. In five minutes you shall
wear the badge of your school."
A score of paces brought Gogi and the natlia
to the first of the hatters. A huge cap made of
tin and painted in true colors hung before the
door, but without this Gogi would have known
that it was the shop of a hatter. On a row of little
sticks behind the dingy glass of the window were
draped dozens of curly lambskins — lambskins
from which are made pappakas, the round fur hats
of the Caucasus. Badges, too, of all sorts and
shapes were displayed on cardboards that leaned
against the glass.
Many things were in the make-up of the dif-
ferent badges — Shammer and tongs, hammer and
wrench, squares, anchors, and compasses — for
every trade and profession is represented by some
emblem. Two snakes coiled about a staff with
wings was the badge of a feldscher, a doctor's
assistant. The hammer and monkey wrench, or
American wrench as it was called, Gogi had re-
membered seeing in the velvet band of the caps
which engineers wore. The engineers had come
to Ozerget when there had been talk of building
a branch of the iron road from Natonebi. They
had looked at one another through long brass
pipes that stood on three legs; they had waved
their arms and shouted and driven dozens of tiny
wooden pegs into the earth and left. The tiny
pegs had had tiny scraps of red cloth tied to them
like flags, and the engineers had worn fine caps
with badges such as he now saw in the window
of the hatter.
"Perhaps," thought Gogi, "I shall be an en-
gineer and build tracks for the iron road." And
in dreaming of this he forgot that he had not dis-
covered his own badge until when the natlia called
to him from the open door of the shop.
The hatters, Uke the tailors, also sat on their
tables, but the tables were smaller, as were the
irons. Some of them sat before sewing ma-
chines so tiny that they were almost hidden
beneath their huge spools of thread. All about
were round blocks of wood. These were the blocks
222 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
upon which the finished hats and caps were ironed
and shaped and left to dry.
Stack on stack and row on row in shelves he-
hind the master's sewing table stood the finished
caps. Some were made with bands of green velvet
and some with blue; some were piped with red,
some with black, and some with yellow, for colors
had a meaning as well as badges. They showed
the wearers' trades and ranks. The owner took
down one of these stacks and passed cap after
cap to Gogi until he found one that fitted him
well. At the top of the stack were the smaller
sizes and the larger were at the bottom. This
saved the trouble of numbering them.
School caps are worn rather small, and Gogi
stepped before a cracked looking-glass and won-
dered at the change his cap made in his face. It
seemed to him that his face had suddenly grown
very round and fat beneath the little blue
velvet cap perched on the crown of his close-
cropped head. There was something strange about
the cap that Gogi wore, something rather amiss.
And then Gogi saw.
"It has no badge!" he exclaimed.
"So it hasn't," agreed the natlia, and at a nod
from him the shopkeeper hastened to the window
and returned with a card full of silver badges
from which he chose the right one and affixed it
to the front of Gogi's cap.
^^Ba lamaziar cried the pleased Gogi. "How
pretty!" And settling the new cap firmly onto
his head with the shiny little visor bent in close
against his forehead, he followed the natlia from
"Now you are a schoolfellow," said the natlia.
"All shall know you by your cap and badge."
"There will be no better cap in all the school,
I am sure," said Gogi proudly. "Thank you,
natlia-hesLTt, thank you!"
"You are welcome, Gogi-heart," replied the
natlia, and then he chuckled to himself. "But I
fear that it will not be the finest cap in the school.
You are going to be disappointed, Gogi-heart."
"Surely it was the best cap in the shop of the
hatter," said Gogi with some surprise. "It was
the dearest of them all."
The natUa laughed again. "Caps in school are
not judged by their cost," he explained. "At the
school, you will find, the best caps are the oldest
caps. The older a cap — ^that is, the longer the
owner has worn it — the more it is prized. Students
buy new coats and capes and great coats as often
224 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
as they can, but new caps — ^never. In school a
good cap is an old cap."
Gogi was none the less thankful on hearing
this. He knew that it took a good cap to last to
be an old cap and his was surely good as he still
judged it. Gogi wondered at the queer ways of
the students as he paced beside the natlia.
For shoes, the natlia took Gogi to his own cob-
bler. The cobbler made shoes only to measure and
order, but as luck had it he was left with a pair
which had been a mite too small for another cus-
tomer but which fitted Gogi exactly. He slipped
off his worn rawhide tchouvaki and tried the
"A good fit," said the natlia, thumbing them
on his godson's feet. "Now you are a student, top
and bottom, at least!"
Gogi took a few steps to see how it was to walk
in shoes. They seemed very heavy, and try as
he would the heels dragged on the ground. He
had never walked on any heels but his own be-
fore. His many-colored, tasseled socks, into which
his bagged breeches were tucked, looked strange
above the black polished shoes. He pulled the legs
of his breeches from his sock tops and let them fall
down over the shoe tops
As Gogi followed the natlia homeward his feet
began to ache and burn. He thought his socks
were falling down; there was nothing to hold
them up now that he had discarded his tchouvaki
with their long leather thongs that had bound his
legs from ankle to knee. His breeches legs, no
longer held snugly to the calves of his legs, flopped
about as he walked and felt very loose and un-
Gogi was glad when the evening meal at the
natlia s house was eaten and he was free to go
to the little room which he had been told to call
his own. He picked up his new cap from the bed
where he had carefully laid it; he blew upon the
badge and shiny black visor and polished them
on the rough sleeve of his jacket. They were very
fine indeed. He sat down on the bed and unlaced
his new shoes. His toes were numb and the soles
of his feet burned like fire. His heels hurt, too,
and when he had stripped off his heavy socks he
saw that there was a flaming red spot on either
'^Blisters," said Gogi, and touched the tender
places with a surprised finger. Not a stone in all
the mountains of Guria was hard enough to bruise
one of his horny, thick-skinned heels, but one short
226 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
walk on city streets in city shoes had raised two
**When you live with wolves you must howl
life a wolf," said Gogi to himself, meaning "When
in Rome, be a Roman!" Others wore such shoes
and wear them he must. Shucking off his clothes,
he crawled into bed and blew out the candle that
stood at its head. Through the window of his room
the moon shone faintly and the silver cap badge
caught a ray and sent it flashing back to Gogi
from the bedpost where himg his scholar's cap.
That night Gogi was not so lonely, and despite
his aching feet, or perhaps because of them, he
was soon asleep.
Gogi Meets a Stranger
OGI was glad that his natlia was a wealthy
man— that is to say, sujSSciently wealthy to buy a
pupil's uniform for his godson. The first lesson
that Gogi learned in school was not taught him
by the teachers but by the boys themselves. He
learned that the worst thing that could happen
to a pupil in the big city school was to be differ-
ent from the other boys. Other boys had been less
^28 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
fortunate than Gogi, or poorer, and came to school
in their country costumes of homespun brown and
with their feet shod in rawhide sandals. Many
boys were cruel enough to make sport of these
country pupils, and when Gogi took the part of
one of them he discovered that his city clothes
had not changed him altogether.
^'Guriani, Guriani — ^A Gurian!" the boys
shouted, for they had discovered his home and
tribe in his manner of speech. The Gurians al-
ways speak very rapidly and sometimes they give
a twist to their words that is strange to city ears —
especially in Tiflis. In his anger for the mean ac-
tions Gogi had spoken even faster — so rapidly, in
fact, that many of his hearers had not even under-
stood all that he had said. Enough that they under-
stood him to be a Gurian and a country boy. Fin-
gers were pointed at him and words were shouted
in his ear with the strange twist given them by the
Guriani and thought to be funny in the city.
Gogi glanced about at the grinning circle of
faces. They reminded him of jackals. He told
"Jackals, jackals!" said he, and this time he
took care to speak slowly so that everyone under-
GOGI MEETS A STRANGER 229
One of the jeering boys stepped closer to Gogi.
He was taller than the rest and dark. He looked
like an Armenian. Afterward Gogi learned that
he was an Armenian.
"I'll teach you how to talk, Guriani" said the
tall boy, and knocked Gogi's new cap from his
In a moment Gogi forgot what the nailia had
told him — to take such talk as a joke. Gogi lost
his temper. He grappled the bully, and before the
crowd knew what was happening the big fellow
lay howling on the ground. It was a wrestler's
trick that Gogi had learned from Vanno, the son
of Grigo the smith — Vanno, the best wrestler in
^'Vasha, Guriani — Hurrah for the Gurian,"
cried an admiring voice from the crowd. Soon all
were shouting, ''Vasha, Gurianir That is, all
but the big boy who took the tumble ; he was glad
to get away unnoticed.
"We are friends," said one boy with a smihng
face, as he embraced the still angry Gogi. "We
are friends if you will be friends with jackals.
It is only jackals, after all, that scream and howl,
but are afraid to fight."
Gogi glanced around the circle of faces again.
230 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
This time they seemed more friendly. In many
eyes he saw admiration for his feat of fine wrest-
hng. They were not such a bad lot after all.
'^'Khargir said Gogi. "Good, we are friends."
So began Gogi's first day in the city school at
In the schoolrooms there were many things that
made for wonder and admiration: shiny desks
with seats that tilted up when one wished to stand;
a great clock — Gogi had never seen a bigger one
out of a church steeple — ^which hung on the wall;
most wonderful of all the huge *'stone boards,"
as Gogi called the slate slabs that formed the
blackboards around the room. They were as big
as a barn door, Gogi thought admiringly. How
small seemed his own little slate in its rude wooden
frame which Vasso had whittled for him — ^the
little slate which the city teacher told him he would
need no longer. In the city school they wrote on
paper; paper was far too scarce to use for simple
practice in the old priest's odd classes which Gogi
had attended. Paper was for letters.
How still it seemed in the classroom when the
pupils were studying! No one spoke. The classes
of the old priest had differed in this, too. There
everyone had mumbled the words of his lesson
GOGI MEETS A STRANGER 231
aloud as he studied. The little room behind the
village church had sounded like a big hive of
busy bees. Gogi, in spite of himself, began mum-
bling aloud from his book in the old way, but
he soon heard a warning "Tsssst!" This was the
teacher, and as Gogi glanced up he saw the teacher
shaking his ruler at him and frowning angrily.
The ruler was long and round and heavy. Gogi
had heard from the older pupils that the teachers
sometimes used such rulers to whip erring boys :
to strike the palms of their hands for punish-
ment. After that Gogi was careful to keep silent
as he studied, although he had to bite hard on his
lip to do it.
Gogi missed the girls, too. Only boys attended
this school; the girls went to one of their own
where there were no boys. To make matters worse,
the teacher called him Georgi, Son of Vasso ; Gogi
— the name to which he had answered all his life
— was a pet name. Gogi understood that they
were all thought to be young men and too old for
pet names, but he still loved his and the new
way of calling him seemed strange and unfriendly
after that other homely, familiar sound.
The teacher was a man, and he looked very
young to Gogi in spite of the little black, spiked
232 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
beard that grew on his chin. Gogi even wondered
if so young a man could know as much as the
aged priest who had taught him his first letters
and words. Doubtless not, for after a while the
teacher left the room and for a whole hour his
place was taken by a priest in long black robes
who prayed for a space and then settled himself
to hear their catechism. He was not so kindly as
the country priest and spoke very sharply to those
who faltered in their recitation.
When they had said their catechism the priest
lingered to tell the class something more. "You
have all learned to read and write," said he, "but
the writing which you all know is the sort which
is called the soldier's writing. Good St. Mesrop,
who gave us the art of putting words on paper
and stones, gave us two writings which are used
by all learned Karthli: the soldier's writing,
which you know, and the priest's writing, which
you are all now to learn."
Gogi had heard of this other writing and he
was pleased that he was about to hear something
more of it. The priest went on to explain.
"St. Mesrop," said the priest, "gave a writ-
ing to the Karthli and to the people of Hai-stan
>vhom we call Armenians, and to each he gave
GOGI MEETS A STRANGER 233
their own, the letters being somewhat different
for each. These letters are very beautiful and have
many turns and twists, some being broad and
black while others are very fine."
There was silence in the classroom as the priest
continued: "As you all know, there was never
one, nor is there one, among all nations so war-
like as our people of Karthli. We have always
been fighting for the freedom which we love. On
the battle field the soldier cannot take the time
and care which is needed to form the beautiful
letters of the 'priest's writing.' Therefore our
soldiers began to leave out the little turns and
twists, one by one, and in their desire for speed
they let their letters run together in a way that
tied one letter to another. That is how we came
by our 'soldier's writing' which is now used by
"The people of our country," continued the
priest, "who put down the stories of our wars and
of our tribes and their histories were the priests
and writers. In this they took great pride, and
since they also enjoyed the peace of their own
homes away from the noise and bustle of battle
and siege, they were able to take the care needed
in using the 'priest's writing,' the beautiful let-
g34 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
ters of which are much more fitting for such work
as was theirs. The Armenians, who are a nation
of traders and flee all war even at the cost of their
liberty, have never changed their writing for one
like our 'soldier's,' for their writing is done in the
quiet of their shops and counting houses.
"So,' 'said the priest, "he who would learn of
the greatness of the KarthU and of their brave
history must learn likewise the 'writing of the
priest.' To such wonderful treasures these let-
ters are the only keys." And turning to the broad
slate at his back, the priest took a fragment of
chalk in his fingers and deftly sketched the letters
of the beautiful "writing of the priests."
In the evenings after school Gogi Uked to saun-
ter slowly along the great street that led toward
the house of the natlia. The Street of the Castle it
was called, for a great castle frowned down onto
the street. Sometimes Gogi walked in the beau-
tiful park that stretched beyond the castle itself.
Once it had been the playground for the Rus-
sians, who had ruled the Karthli with an iron hand,
but now in these days of freedom it had been
thrown open for all visitors. Children dashed and
played about the lawns and walks where a few
years before none but the highest Russian officers
GOGI MEETS A STRANGER £35
and the grandest Russian ladies had strolled —
officers with brave uniforms and clanking spurs
and fine ladies in fine clothes. Gogi did not worry
a great deal about the Russian officers and fine
ladies that had lost their playground — it had not
really belonged to them at all — they had taken
it away from the Karthli and had been forced
to give it back. And now Gogi and his school
friends played in its cool hiding places.
Sometimes Gogi took the back road and fol-
lowed the river Kura. On the far side of the stream
were the baths. Their round domes lined the chff-
like bank, and the hot sulphur water that trickled
from the springs over which they were built spilled
down the steep rocks, taking on many brilliant
colors and forming long iciclelike spikes that hung
in clusters and festoons from every stony shelf.
\ Beyond the baths were the tanyard, the flat
roofs of their low buildings crowded with racks
and racks of drying hides. When Gogi saw brown
icicles hanging over the river or yellow streaks of
water flowing down the farther bank, he knew
that the color came from the powdered oak bark
used by the tanners in curing the leather. Still
farther beyond arose the slim spearlike towers
of the Moslem churches — metchedsj they were
236 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
called. Each tower had a tiny door at its top that
opened out onto a tiny railed platform that ran
around it near the top. From there it was that the
crier or muezzin called the Moslems to prayer. He
called them so often that Gogi wondered how
they ever found time to work.
On rainy afternoons Gogi read. He had quickly
mastered the ^'Priest's writing" and in the library
of the natlia he found much to read: stories of
Gurg-Arslan, the Wolf -Lion; of White Georgi,
his namesake; and the wonderful tale of "The
Man in the Tiger's Skin." With pride Gogi saw
that the greatest of the writers also were Gurians,
as were the greatest of soldiers.
One day he saw a stooped old man limping
along a path in the castle garden. He seemed
very tired and worn and took a seat on the bench
where Gogi had placed his books while he played
at knucklebones with his friends in the cinder
path. As Gogi played he saw that the old man
had taken up one of his books and was scanning
its pages with his spectacled old eyes. When Gogi
had finished his game and was ready to go home
he went to get his books. He gathered together all
his books but one. That one the old man still held,
although he did not seem to be reading it. The
GOGI MEETS A STRANGER 237
book lay open on his lap, but his eyes were closed
as though he were sleeping. Gogi did not wish to
disturb the old man, so he softly seated himself
on the bench beside him, intending to wait until
The old man could scarcely have been sleeping
for he heard Gogi, quietly as he had moved, and
opening his eyes he smiled at the boy.
"Health to you, uncle," said Gogi. "I am sorry
if I awoke you."
"Long hf e to you, son-of-my-heart," answered
the old man. "You did not awake me. I was not
sleeping; I was only dreaming."
Gogi was ashamed to remind the old man that
he still held his book, and the old man seemed to
have forgotten. He still sat with the open book
on his lap and looked away into space with tired
eyes. When the old man at last remembered and
returned the book to Gogi with an apology for
keeping him waiting, Gogi asked if he had finished
the story which he had been reading.
"I know the story," rephed the old man. "I
have read it many times, but to-day my eyes
cannot see the letters of its words. I would have
liked to read it once again."
"I shall be glad to read it to you," said Gogi.
238 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"I have read it many times, also, but I would
like to read it again."
''Then read it, and life to you, son-of-my-
heart," answered the old man eagerly. "I can think
of nothing that I would like better."
The old man's tired eyes closed again as though
he slept, but Gogi knew that he listened, so he
began the story of "Surabo, the Boy-Hero of
The Legend of Surdbo
HIS is the story that Gogi read in the castle
garden to the tired old man who sat beside him
on the garden bench with eyes closed as though
The Tale of Surabo
Through the mountainous heights of Suram
which divide the East from the West of Georgia
there is a single narrow, rocky passage. It is called
the Pass of Suram. On a stony ledge above the
240 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
Pass of Suram rot the ruins of a once-powerful
stronghold from which the Karthli guarded the
gates to the heart of their country. It is the Castle
of Suram. It was the strength of ancient Georgia
and the despair of all their enemies.
During the reign of a fortunate and victorious
King of Georgia the old castle, which had already
stood many, many years, fell under an evil en-
chantment. The strong stone wall that frowned
down onto the Pass so terribly began to crumble
and totter and fall, little by little, to the river and
This enchantment had been wrought by an evil
old witch who lived in a cave near by. Once upon
a time she had been the betrothed of the king
himself, but finding out that she was as evil as she
was beautiful, the king very wisely decided that
she was imfit to be queen over his people and
wed another. For this reason there was nothing
too evil for this old witch to plan against the good
king as a revenge.
Time after time the wall was rebuilt, but as
often as it was rebuilt it fell again. The king
was in bitter despair. He knew not where to turn.
The Persians might fall upon the kingdom at any
moment and without the mighty castle to oppose
THE LEGEND OF SURABO 241
them they would soon conquer the entire country
and make slaves of all the Georgians, as they had
tried to do many times before.
The best stone mason and the best bricklayers
from all the kingdom were brought to Suram,
but all their skill was used in vain. The new wall
completed in the evening always lay in ruins the
following morn. The king was at his wit's end
when one of his nobles told him of an old witch
who lived in a cave above the castle.
"She is very wise," said the noble. "She has
performed many strange miracles and if there
is any help for us she is our only remaining hope."
The king was willing to do anything to save
his people from slavery to the Persians so he was
dehghted to learn of the old witch from the noble.
He did not guess that this was the same person
who had cast the spell on the castle nor did he
know that she had once been his old sweetheart
whose love had turned to terrible hate when he
"Go," said he to the noble who had spoken,
"and bring this wise woman to the castle at once.
She shall have all that she desires if she will only
raise the spell from our castle so that the wall
will cease to fall and crumble."
242 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
The noble hastened to the dark cave where the
old witch lived and gave to her the king's mes-
sage. She put on her black shawl, and leaving
a bowl of milk with corn bread for her cats, she
clambered down the side of the mountain in the
path of the returning noble.
The king was awaiting her impatiently and
when she arrived he admitted her iromediately.
"I have been told that you are very wise," said
the king to the witch, not recognizing her for what
''You have heard the truth," returned the witch
in a sour voice. ''Why have you disturbed my
"A great trouble has come upon us," said the
king. "We are like to be conquered by the Per-
sians and be sold into everlasting slavery." And
he told her how the wall fell down as often as it
was rebuilt in spite of all the skill of the best
builders and stone masons.
"That is a small matter which can soon be
fixed," said the witch, when she had heard the
tale of woe.
The king was greatly delighted to hear these
words, and his kindly face broke into happy smiles
for the first time since misfortune had come upon
THE LEGEND OF SURABO 243
the castle above the pass. ''Life to you, mother-
heart," cried he to the old witch. "But tell us what
we must do to keep the wall from falling."
The old witch cackled evilly. "That is, as I
have said, very simple. You have but to find a
young boy who has never done any wrong and
who is willing that you plaster him up in the
wall as you rebuild it. With his body in the stone
wall the spell will be lifted from the castle and
the wall will last forever and ever, though other
walls rot and crumble to the dust from which they
The smile had left the king's face before the
old woman had said many words, for the king
was a man with a very tender heart and he could
never do the awful thing which the old witch
advised. He became very angry with the old crone
and shouted to her to be gone at once. The witch
was glad enough to go, and she did so with another
evil cackle in the place of a farewell.
The king and his court were again plunged into
the deepest despair. They could not bring them-
selves to do the terrible thing which would break
the spell. They resigned themselves to their fate
and were ready to retreat as soon as a messenger
brought news of advancing foes.
244 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
One morning a beautiful young boy stood at
the gate of the castle and begged admittance to
the throne of the king. "I have come," said he,
"to save my country. Let the stone masons plaster
me into the wall so that the spell may be broken
and the castle be strong against the enemy."
"We know you," said the nobles who had heard
his plea. "You are Surabo, the son of the widow.
Surely you have never done any evil and you
are your mother's only son. Why, then, should
we do evil by you? You are too young to die."
"No man is too young to die for his country,"
said Surabo bravely. "Take me before our lord
The nobles saw that Surabo could not be dis-
suaded, and after paying many compliments to
his high courage, they took him before the king.
The king listened to Surabo with tears in his eyes,
for the price seemed too great to be paid. He, too,
spoke as did the nobles who had first heard the
"You are too young to die."
To the king Surabo answered as he had an-
swered the nobles : "No man is too young to die
for his country. It is better that I die alone than
all our brave warriors fall in hopeless battle and
THE LEGEND OF SURABO 245
our women and children be taken as slaves into
Iran, the land of the Persians."
When the king heard these words he could
not forbear weeping bitterly, and all the nobles
who stood about his throne also wept with him.
Surabo, alone, from all in the room did not weep.
He stood straight and brave before the king's
throne and repeated: "No man is too young to
die for his country!"
When the king saw that Surabo had set his
heart on giving his young Uf e for his country and
that he could not be dissuaded he agreed, although
he greatly feared that the sacrifice would be in
vain. He summoned the master mason and told
him to gather stone and mix mortar and make
all ready for building the wall once again.
That evening the masons began the erection
of the new wall. High on one smooth side they
left a small opening, and into this niche stepped
Surabo of his own accord. When Surabo had
stepped into the niche of the wall the masons
began to close the opening with brick and stone.
Surabo's mother, the poor widow, stood with
the people below, but she was so weighted with
grief for her son that she could not watch the
building of the wall that was to bury him alive.
246 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
She knelt on the cobbles of the castle yard beside
the king and prayed. All about them the nobles
and other people also knelt and prayed. Only the
masons worked and labored, stacking stone on
stone and brick on brick.
At last the weeping mother broke her prayer,
for she could not bear to wait any longer, and
cried out to her son: *'How high, Surabo-heart ?
How high is the wall?"
''To my knee, mother-heart, to my knee," an-
Again the people and the king and the mother
wept and prayed until the mother again broke
her prayer and asked: ''How high, son-of-my-
heart? How high is the wall?"
"To my waist, mother-heart, to my waist," an-
The mother and the people, on hearing the
brave boy's answer, fell weeping still more bit-
terly, until the mother again asked: "How high,
son-of-my-soul? How high is the wall?"
i "To my breast, mother-heart, to my breast,"
A fourth time the mother ceased her weeping
and praying to ask : "How high the wall, Surabo-
soul? How high the wall?"
THE LEGEND OF SURABO M7
'*To my eyes, mother-heart. Farewell ! To my
eyes. Farewell ..."
When the people heard these words they wept
even louder than before. The masons wept also
and tears oozed from the very stones of the castle
Once more the mother cried out: "How high
the wall, Surabo-heart, son-of-my-soul? How
high the wall?"
This time no answer came to the waiting throng
and when they looked up they perceived that the
stone masons had plastered in the last stone and
were smoothing the face of the wall. Surabo had
given his life to save his country and his people!
The multitude wept with a voice that could be
heard for miles and the king wept more bitterly
than any other, but over the loud grief of them all
came the high, sorrowful wail of the widowed
mother of Surabo :
''Fai-mi, Chemi Surabo,
Vai-mi, chemi shviloT
"Woe is me, my Surabo,
Woe is me, my man-child!"
The following morning when the Persians
came to attack the pass the castle wall stood high
MS NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
and strong against them and from his gates the
King of Georgia drove the foe with great slaugh-
This is the tale of Surabo, the son of the widow;
Surabo who some say was really a prince; but
queen's son or widow's son he is the princely hero
of the Pass of Suram.
Hundreds of years have passed since the
masons plastered the brave youth into the stones,
and since that time castles have been built and
castles have fallen, nations have come and gone,
but the enchanted Wall of Suram has lost no
single stone. It still stands a lasting monument
to the heroism of the widow's Surabo.
When Gogi finished the Tale of Surabo he
closed the book and turned to the old man. His
eyes were still closed, but he bowed his head a
little to show that he had heard all, and aloud he
"Life to you, son of Guria, and thanks."
"To you life and health," answered Gogi, and
began to strap his books together with a leather
The old man also arose to go. "We have no
more Surabos in these days," he remarked, sadlj^
THE LEGEND OF SURABO 249
shaking his head. "And now we need them more
than ever before."
*'But my father says that we have," objected
Gogi. "That is a tale of itself."
"Who are these Surabos, these brave young
men, of whom your father has told you?" asked
the old man.
"The greatest of them all," said Gogi, "is not
a young man, but he is as brave as Surabo for all
that. He is Noah Jordani, the president, whom
we KarthU call 'Our Noah.' "
"Yes?" said the old man, with more interest
than he had shown before. "Tell me how he is
Said Gogi, "My father says that he too, like
Surabo, has let himself be walled up in a stone
wall to save our country. He is seated, night and
day, in the castle which stands before these very
gardens, and he is giving his life for the Karthli.
"He is very old and weak and is a cripple,"
continued Gogi. "He has labored many years to
gain us our freedom, and the Russians who were
our masters sent him far into Siberia as an exile
because he wished to save our people. Now that
we are once more free he is forced to work night
and day to hold our freedom for us. Always he
250 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
sits in his little room in the castle yonder and plans
for our good . . . and he is old and ill and should
have rest. My father says that the stone wall of
his office is smothering him just as surely as the
wall smothered Surabo of Suram, and that he
knows it, but does not fear to give his life for us."
And then he added, "Our Noah is also of the
people of Guria. His village is just over the hill
from ours and I have seen his house which stands
in Lantchout. There are none hke our Gurians."
"Noah Jordani," said the old man, "should be
very proud that he is able to give his life for the
Karthli, for his is an old life and he has not long
to live at best."
And the old man added, "It is good to be proud
that you are a Gurian, for surely the Gurians are
good people. But so are the people of Imeritia
and Sveria and Ratcha and Kakhetia — all the
people of the Karthli. It is good to remember
that first we are all KarthK, for if we do not all
stand together — Kakhetia and Imeritia and
Guria and Mengralia and the rest of the tribes of
the Karthli — we shall surely lose the freedom
which you say Noah Jordani is buying with his
life. We must forget our tribal quarrels and
stand together," he repeated, and with these
THE LEGEND OF SURABO 251
words he looked full into Gogi's eyes, and with
a friendly nod and a smiling farewell he turned
away and limped slowly back toward the castle
that stood at the front of the gardens.
When the old man looked full at Gogi the boy
thought that he saw something familiar in the
tired, sad face. His thought went back to the old
man again and again, but he could not remem-
ber where he had seen him until he glanced up
at the schoolroom clock the following morning.
Hanging below the great clock of the schoolroom
was the picture of an old man with a thin gray
beard and sad tired eyes. It was the same to whom
he had read the Tale of Surabo. It was Noah
Jordani, he who was known as Our Noah — the
president of Karthli!
The Turkish Bath
T WAS a Friday morning. Gogi and the natlia
were on their way to the baths above the river
Kura. ^^Ahanoshif^ said Gogi to the driver of a
a phaeton, as the cabs are called, and taking a seat
in the vehicle beside his godfather, they were
whirled away with a clatter toward the Kura
Bridge and the far shore of the river that housed
the baths. Ahanoshi, as you may have guessed,
means "to the baths."
The natlia had a lovely bath in his own house,
but he always visited the city baths once a week.
THE TURKISH BATH 253
He found the sulphur water from their hot
springs good for his health, and he hked the mas-
sage which the bath attendants gave so well. Fri-
days the baths had not too many visitors and
the natlia liked to go on then. Friday is the day
of rest for all Moslems so all Moslems go to
the bath on Thiu'sday. Sunday is the Christians'
day of rest and they generally bathe on Saturday;
Friday is thought to be unlucky by many who are
superstitious. Saturday is the day of rest for the
Jews but since they never take baths in the Cau-
casus if they can avoid doing so, Friday, the day
which should really be their bath day, is quite free
of a crowd.
^ When the cab came into the narrow winding
streets into which the baths opened the driver
turned about to ask which his patrons wished to
visit. The natlia pointed with his stick to one at
the foot of the alley. It was a tall stone building
with a front made entirely of light blue tile with
red borders. Its great dome that rose above the
roof was surrounded by dozens of smaller domes,
and every one was set with hundreds of tiny round
glass windows no larger than a saucer, that spark-
led and flashed in the sun's white light like dia-
monds in a crown.
254 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"Bbbbbbbb !" called the driver to his horses and
pulled them to a flourishing halt before the doors
of the Orbilianni Bath. The natlia threw the man
a coin and followed Gogi into the bath.
"You have chosen a new bath," said Gogi to
his godfather. "Do you find something wrong
with the other one?"
"It is not that," replied the natlia, "This bath
has sulphur springs much hotter than all the rest.
I feel the need of very hot water to-day, for my
rheumatism is troubling me a little."
"Is it true that the Tiflis baths are good for
sickness?" Gogi questioned the natlia.
"They are very good indeed," asserted the nat-
lia. "It is because of that that Gurg-Arslan, the
Wolf -Lion, built the city of Tiflis. Many years
ago, when Gurg-Arslan had become a very old
man, his only pleasure was an occasional hunt in
the thick forests that grew at that time all along
the shores of the river Kura. One day when he
was stiff and tired from the hunt he stopped near
one of the warm springs and bathed. The next day
he felt much better. The next time he hunted in
this direction he did not forget, and when the
hunt was finished he took another bath. Again
he found that it caused him to feel much better.
THE TURKISH BATH ^55
Then it was that he decided to build a castle near
these healthful springs of warm water so that
he might bathe each day or when he jvished.
About the castle houses sprang up, and soon there
was a tiny town. This little town grew and grew
until it became the great city in which we now live.
^Tiflis-skhali/ it was called — warm waters, that
is — and this name has been shortened to Tiflis."
"I have seen the ruins of his great castle on
the side of the Hill of St. David, above the
school," said Gogi. "And we read of his war
against India in our book of history in the class-
A man with nothing on but a red towel about
his waist met them and took them to a private
room where they undressed. When they had taken
off their clothes they, too, tied themselves about
with red towels, and opening a low door in the
rear of the dressing room they entered into the
bath. In the bathroom were two stone benches
and a deep square bath that was level with the
floor and into which led a set of stone steps. Gogi
and the natlia threw themselves at full length
on the two stone benches and the bath attendants
(another had now joined the first) cast buckets
of hot sulphur water over their bodies. When
^6 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
the two bathers were quite wet the men made
great buckets of frothy soapsuds and soaped Gogi
and his natlia until they looked like two white
marble statues. Then they went into the next
room and smoked while Gogi and the natlia
When their cigarettes were finished the bath-
men returned, and slipping their hands into rough
mittens woven from tree bark, they began to
scour and scrub the bodies of the bathers. After
this scouring Gogi and the natlia jumped into the
stone bath and rinsed themselves clear of soap.
Gogi remained in the warm, gassy water of the
bath, but the natlia climbed out and lay down
again on a bench. He was about to have his men
give him a massage.
The tiny bubbles of gas clung to Gogi's naked
body for a short while and then burst. There were
millions of them and they made a little tickly feel-
ing as they exploded, hundreds at a time, all over
his body. The bath attendant was massaging the
natlia. With one hand he lifted huge folds of the
natlia' s skin, and with the other hand he struck
these folds heavy shcing blows. It was just like
chopping wood. Then he put his two hands on the
natlia' s shoulders and began to tread on his back
THE TURKISH BATH 257
with his naked feet as a baker mixes dough. He
twisted his arms and hands, his legs and feet; he
rubbed his neck this way and that, and then as a
last touch he gave the natlia's head a sudden twist
that made a crack like a rifle shot. This ended
the massage, and the attendant then left as the
natlia joined Gogi in the marble pool of hot
Half an hour later Gogi and his godfather were
out of the bath and stood again on the street.
"Greetings of light steam," said Gogi. This is
the salutation always given to one who comes
from the bath.
"And to you greetings of light steam and long
life," answered the natlia,
Gogi looked up at the sun to see the time. It
was near noon, he decided. Even as he looked he
heard the high thin wail of the muezzin from a
big mosque beside the bath. He was calling the
Moslems to noon prayers. "There is no God but
Allah and Mohammed is his prophet," he cried
in a weird singsong tenor. As he sang he held his
hand to the sides of his mouth to carry the sounds
afar to the most distant Moslems.
Below in the yard of the worshipping place all
was bustle and noise. The worshippers who lived
258 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
near by were congregated about a fountain of
flowing water and were washing their feet and
hands and mouth, for every good Moslem washes
before he prays. If there is no water he may use
ashes. If neither water nor ashes are to be had,
he may use dust or dry earth. Some of the most
devout had their prayer rugs with them in httle
rolls which they carried beneath their arms.
Others were content to kneel on the straw mats
which were free for all on the floor of the mosque.
Many who lived some distance from the mosque
prayed at their homes or in their shops. Moslems
pray so often that if they were to come from some
distance to pray at the church they would have
only time enough to reach home before the muez-
zin called them for the next prayer.
Even some of those at the church chose to pray
outside. Gogi saw them spreading their prayer
mats and rugs or already bending and rising with
their faces always to the east — to the east where
lies the body of their prophet Mohammed. As
each man finished his prayers he sat for a few
minutes with hands folded quietly, or counted a
little string of amber such as all peoples of the
^'Akhal Thither!'' cried the natlia, raising a
THE TURKISH BATH 259
beckoning finger to a passing cab. The driver
drew up to the curb and Gogi and the natlia were
rattled away from the bath and back through the
narrow, cobbled streets toward the New City, the
better quarter and home.
''Ya-vash! . . . Ya-vashr shouted the driver,
meaning "Look out! . . . Look out!" for the
streets were crowded with porters carrying huge
boxes and bundles as large as small houses on
their backs. One man was carrying a piano alone
with only four helpers who, now and then, lifted
it up so that he might hitch his shoulders into a
more comfortable position. Tiny donkeys trotted
along hidden beneath the tremendous loads on
their skinny backs — baskets of pottery, stacks of
hay, great earthen jars filled with milk or cool
water from a famous spring beyond the town.
Here and there a circle of porters sat about the
tiny charcoal stove of a street vendor whose busi-
ness it was to sell them little chunks of mutton
fried over his stove on splinters of wood. Some of
them munched sheets of soggy bread as thin as
paper. Others rolled their chunks of meat in the
bread and ate it in this manner. All seemed to
be enjoying their simple meal.
"Oh, what a tiny church!" exclaimed Gogi,
260 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
pulling the natlias arm to draw his attention to-
ward a small chapel that was almost lost in a
tumbled pile of wretched shops and storehouses.
"That is the Chapel of St. Nina," said the
"St. Nina, who baptized the Karthli?" asked
"The same," agreed the natlia. *^*^The tiny-
church which you see was built to protect the cross
which she used when she made Christians of the
Georgians. It was woven of grapevine."
"The priest has told me of it," said Gogi. "It
was stolen by the Russian soldiers when they first
came into our country."
"That is true," said the natlia, "People used
to say that the Karthh would never be free again
until the Cross of St. Nina was returned to the
place where it had hung for so many years."
"But we have freedom again," Gogi said. "Is
the cross back?"
"It is not the cross that brings freedom," said
the natlia, "It is that which the cross stands for:
courage and love for your fellow man."
"That is what Tchuenni Noah said," Gogi re-
The natlia had the cab stop at the head of the
THE TURKISH BATH 261
big bridge over the Kura and he and Gogi took
a cool drink of spring water from one of the men
who sold it. The man carried the water in a tall
brass ewer which was strapped to his back. A long
hose led from the bottom of the ewer with a little
spigot at the end which he turned to fill a cup with
a drink. While he was serving his customers the
man continued to shout from time to time, "Sauk-
soOjSauk'SOo! , . . Cold water, cold water!" The
ewer was decorated with tassels of scarlet silk, and
a spike that stuck up from the battered lid was
fitted with a little bell that kept up a constant
jingling as the man walked or tilted his jug to
pour a drink.
Gogi noticed from the man's dress that he was
a Tartar ; most street venders in Tiflis about the
Old City are Tartars. Gogi saw other venders who
were not Tartars, however. Neither were they
dressed like Georgians or Armenians. They wore
fuU-bloused blue trousers and tight blue tunics
buttoned down the side. On their heads were blue
caps, and their feet were shod in soft boots, the
tops of which were telescoped in dozens of fine
folds over their ankles.
*'Who are those people?" inquired Gogi. "They
have strange clothes. I have never seen such
262 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
clothes in any other place. What is their tribe?"
"They are not a tribe," replied the natlia, "They
are called kintos. Their business is selling on the
streets. Sometimes they steal, also. They come
from all the nations of the Caucasus, but most
of them are Georgians and Armenians."
"They have queer clothes," said Gogi.
"They have queer ways," said the natlia, "Do
you see the heavy silver belts which they wear
about their waists?"
Gogi said that he did, and asked why they were
so large and broad.
"All a hinto's wealth is in his silver belt," ex-
plained the natlia, "The profits in money from his
trade in fish and fruit and greens he spends on
wine, of which they are all too fond. Now and
then when there is a little extra money the kinto
buys a new silver bangle for his belt. When the
weather grows so cool that it is no longer comfort-
able to walk about the streets and sell things the
kinto does something bad — steals or fights; for
this the police send him to the jail for a few
"Why should anyone wish to go to jail?" won-
"No one but kintos f' laughed the natlia, "They
THE TURKISH BATH 263
are so lazy that they had rather go to jail than
work in winter. By the time spring comes, with
the warm weather, their time in jail is finished
and they come out into the sunshine again."
"They come out and go to work again?" asked
'*Yes, they go to work again," said the natlia,
'*But first they must get money with which to buy
the goods which they sell. To do this they borrow
from a money lender and leave their fine silver
belts for a pledge. When they have made enough
money from their peddling they buy back their
belts. So it goes year after year ; always the same.
They never marry and never save any money or
buy a house. When one of them dies the others
who know him best sell his silver belt and with
the money which they get for it they buy a coffin
for the dead kinto and bury him. With any money
that is left over they buy wine and hire musicians
and dance and drink at the grave side as long
as it lasts."
*'Yes," said Gogi, "their customs are even
stranger than their clothes, which are surely
The Pig Hunt — At Home Again
NCE again Gogi stood on the little station
of Natonebi. Everything was just as he had left
it when he set out for the trip to Tiflis. It seemed
to Gogi that he had been away for ages, but the
two buffaloes were chewing their cud at the end
of the station platform and the white scrap of
linen which Vasso now waved to his son might
have been that same one he pulled from his pocket
when he last bade him farewell. Things move
slowly in the mountains of Guria — things and
The same people who had bade Gogi Godspeed
were there to welcome him home, and many were
PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 265
their exclamations of "Va-hatso" and ''Abba' as
they looked him over with admiring eyes. To them
he was already a city dweller, and city dwellers
are much respected in the far parts of the Gurian
hills. That night they did not forget Vasso's invi-
tation to come and receive their share of the news
from the city, but it was not Gogi that passed it
on. It was the natlia, for the news was grave, in-
deed, and called for serious talk. The Armenians
had opened their gates to the Russians, and the
Tartars to the north had also fallen before a new
Russian invasion. In Tiflis it was feared that it
would not be long before a Russian army marched
against the Georgians. Noah Jordani, the presi-
dent, was ill in his bed, and his ministers were
quarrehng among themselves. Grave news this
was to Gurian ears.
Vasso, however, would not allow his guests to
think too much about trouble that might come.
"Our natlia has come to us from the city for the
sake of sport," said he. "Let us be merry while
we may. To-morrow we go to hunt the wild pig
in the thickets of our Gurian mountain slopes."
"It is a good sport," said one, "and they have
become as thick as the Russian soldiers used to
^Q6 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"It is the ripening grapes that have brought
them down from the higher places," said another.
"The hills are littered with rotting grapes."
"The blessed St. Nina has been good to Guria
this year," said Vasso. "Never have I seen grapes
so plentiful and so rich. I have put two more wine
tchanis in the earth of the maranni and still I have
not enough to hold all the harvest. Glory to St.
"Glory to St. Nina," said all the guests, and
made the sign of the cross on their breasts.
Gogi fell asleep and still the men talked, for
visitors from the city are scarce and they were
hungry for news. Nina had set a good table, too,
which they were loath to leave — cold roast pork
with sauce of burnt grape juice, and rich cheese
toasted on the coals. Vasso had opened the mar-
anni and filled a tall earthen koM with wine, and
from time to time the huge black drinking horn
was passed among the guests. There is no end to
Georgian hospitaUty, and there seemed to be no
end to news from Tiflis, so that the sky was al-
ready showing gray with the dawn before the
guests arose to go. Nina had long since gone to
bed, and when Vasso had seen the last visitor go
PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 267
he and the natlia lay down to snatch a little nap
A great clatter in the yard awoke Gogi the
following morning. It was the noisy arrival of
Vanno, the wrestler, and his father, Grigo. They
had come to join the hunt. Clanking against the
frame of Vanno's saddle were half a dozen sharp
bright spearheads. He had forged them with his
own hands. All that was needed was to cut long
staves for them from the forest and there would
be a good stout boar spear for every member that
^'Gomar-juba!" shouted Gogi to the new
guests. "Victory be with you!"
"Long life!" cried Vanno and his father, dis-
mounting from their horses.
Gogi had pulled on his baggy trousers and
slipped his feet into his rawhide tchouvaki at the
first sound of their arrival, and he was at their
side almost before their feet touched the ground.
In spite of the guests who had sat so late, Vasso
had not overslept, for he too appeared from be-
yond the log kitchen by the brook and hastened
forward to join his son in welcoming Grigo and
Vanno. Even the imtlia was up, but his city eyes,
^68 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
unused to the early hours of the country, still
looked a little sleepy.
Steaming corn bread and a fat roasted chicken
were soon laid before the men on the rough board
of the kitchen table, and as they ate Vanno and
Grigo listened eagerly to the news which the
natlia had brought from Tiflis.
"Then it is another war," said Grigo the smith,
shaking his head sadly, for he had seen other wars.
"Are we of the Karthli to be always fighting?
Must we always fight or be slaves?"
Vanno did not look so sad. He stooped over
Gogi and whispered, "Now is come my turn. To
this war I shall go!" Vanno was a member of the
Young People's Regiment, a sort of National
Guard, and they would be the first to be called in
case of a war. Gogi was proud that his big friend
would be able to go and fight for his country, but
he was sorry that he was yet too young. Vasso
would also go, for he was captain of the httle band
of neighbors that lived thereabouts. When they
had formed their little company of volunteers
they had called Vasso as their leader, for Vasso
was also an old soldier, though not so old as Grigo
the smith. All would be gone but Gogi, and he felt
very much out of it all.
PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 269
"But this is killing us no pigs!" exclaimed
Grigo at last, for it would have been impoUte for
Vasso to tell his guests that it was time they left
the table to get ready. "Let us see to our guns
and spears and be off to the hunt. To-day we hunt
pigs, to-morrow the Russians may hunt us!"
"Have you the food for our lunch?" asked
Vasso, turning to Gogi.
"Mother has wrapped it for us," his son an-
swered, and pointed to a bundle tied in a square
of cloth. Beside the bundle lay a small skin filled
with wine. This was too heavy for Gogi, and Vasso
would have slung it across his own stronger shoul-
ders had not Vanno begged to carry it.
"Gogi and I shall be the cooks and get the din-
ner," said he. "In the woods we shall pick a good
place for our camp and hang the wine skin and
bundle of food on a limb. Then we shall be free
to hunt with the rest."
The little party of hunters followed a sheep
path that wound through the forest and up the
side of the mountains beyond the brook. Grigo
had hurried ahead, and when the rest overtook
him he was trimming half a dozen wooden shafts
for the spears. These he had cut from young sap-
lings with the stout knife which he carried at his
270 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
belt. To each of the party he gave a new-cut haft
and a spear head. Each man whittled down his
haft to the right size and fitted the head onto the
"Now we are ready," said Grigo, who was the
best pig hunter. "A little more to go and we shall
see our first pig."
"We are already near," said Gogi. "Look, here
are pig hairs in the rough bark of this tree. They
have been scratching themselves against it."
"Yes," said Grigo. "And do you see how the
bark on the grapevines is chewed and broken near
the ground? That is where the pigs have wrestled
with the vine to shake down the grapes."
"And the ground is all rooted up as though it
had been plowed," added Gogi. "I can see their
tracks in the soft earth."
Vasso and the natlia carried guns with bayonets
on them; they loaded them and made ready to
meet a wild pig. Grigo and his son did not carry
rifles. They thought it better sport to kill the pigs
with spears. Gogi was thought too young to have
As they climbed higher the trees became smaller
and more knotty. The brush became thicker, and
nothing could be seen a few feet from the narrow
PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 271
path which the sheep had beaten. Later the path
swung around the edge of a chff , and to one side
they caught a ghmpse of the valley and Grigo's
smithy far below.
"Look!" cried Vanno excitedly. He pointed to
a crag high above their heads and to the fore.
"It is a mountain sheep !" they all cried at once.
"What a giant!" exclaimed Vasso. "See what
great horns he has!"
"I did not know that any mountain sheep were
left in Guria," said the natlia, "I thought that they
had all been killed."
"When I was a boy they were as thick as the
pigs are now," said Grigo the smith. "But this
fellow is the first that I have seen in years. They
are fast dying out. They are very wild, and it is
hard to get close enough to kill them. This old
fellow must be very clever, though, to have lived
to grow those beautiful horns."
"Give me your gun," said he to the natlia, "I
will show you a trick."
"That sheep is too far away to reach with a
bullet from my gun," said the natlia as he gave
his rifle to the smith.
The smith, however, did not try to hit the dis-
tant sheep with a bullet. He took a cartridge and
272 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
pulled the bullet out with his strong white teeth
and put it in the gun. Then he pointed the rifle
into the air and fired. There was no "bang" with
the bullet out — just a spurt of white smoke. It
was enough, though ; the big sheep disappeared so
suddenly that it was hard to believe that he had
really been standing there a moment before. He
had seen the smoke with his keen wild eyes.
"You were right," laughed the natlia, taking his
gun from Grigo. "He is a clever old sheep. You
would walk your legs off before you could ever
catch up with him."
When they had followed the path a httle far-
ther the mountain seemed to split in two, leaving
a tiny valley between the two peaks. Into the
mouth of this valley Grigo led the hunters.
"Here it is that we shall find our pigs," said he.
"At the head of this valley is a spring that makes
the ground soft and marshy. The pigs come here
to wallow in the mud and eat young fern tops
and mushrooms that grow in the moist shadow."
"They will hear us coming and escape through
the other end," warned the natlia. "The wind is
blowing from us toward them and they will surely
smell us with their sharp noses long before we get
close to them."
PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 273
"Steep cliffs close the other end," said Grigo.
"They cannot get out. There is only one way out
— that is past us. If they smell us, as you say, and
come out, they will only save us the trouble of
going after them."
"I see now why your father is called the best
pig hunter," said Gogi to Vanno. "Let us hang
up the food and wine on the bushes over there.
This will be a good place for our lunch."
"This is a good place," agreed Vanno. "There
are plenty of twigs to make a fire and we can
bring water from the spring after the hunt."
When the food and wine had been put out of
reach of four-legged thieves Grigo again took
conmiand. "We who have spears," said he, "can-
not use them very well in the bushes. We shall
follow along the path. The natlia and neighbor
Vasso can go through the bushes, one on the right
and the other on the left of the path."
"You have picked the best place for yourself,"
laughed the natlia, "The pigs will all run down
the path if they can." But he knew that Grigo
was right about the bushes being in the way of the
spears, and struck out to the left of the path.
Vasso took the right of the path and motioned
to Gogi to keep behind him. Gogi grasped his
274 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
spear firmly and followed his father. Somewhere
in the depths of the thieketed valley he heard a
faint rustle. On this followed an angry squeal. It
was the pigs. Every man took a firm grip on his
gun or spear and moved toward the head of the
valley. The ground grew softer and softer under-
foot, the underbrush gradually thinned, and at
last Gogi caught a glimpse of the open space
around the spring.
Half a dozen pigs were wallowing in the slimy
mud near the water, and as many more were nib-
bling at the tender roots near the foot of the cliff.
The hunters no sooner saw the pigs than the pigs
heard them. One old tusker leaped onto his feet
and stood glaring with wicked little red eyes in
their direction. Thin mud dribbled down from his
lean body and thick mane of long bristles as he
stamped his forefeet and snuffled and grunted,
half in fright and half in anger. The other pigs
hearkened to his warning and faced about toward
Some twig that snapped beneath a careless foot
or the rattle of a spear stave against a bush must
have reached the ears of the pigs, for squealing
and snorting in a frenzy of anger and terror they
suddenly started for the sheep path. Like mad
PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 275
they galloped straight for the half-concealed
hunters. Gogi's heart was in his mouth. The boars
who ran in front were very terrible with their great
shaggy heads and long white tusks that curled
up over their long evil snouts, and this was Gogi's
first sight of a live wild pig at close quarters.
Gogi cannot be really blamed for being fright-
ened, for even the older hunters felt a thrill. Gogi
would have liked to grasp his father's arm, but
he knew that he would need to be free in order
to shoot. All this took but a moment, for Vasso
raised his gun and fired at the foremost boar. At
the same time there came the sound of the natUafs
rifle. The pig at which Vasso shot fell in its tracks,
and the others, with squeals louder than ever,
passed right and left to disappear in the brush
to the rear.
Vasso and Gogi stepped into the open to see
their pig, and as they stooped over the body
Vanno and his father the smith also came out
of the bushes dragging a smaller one. Vanno
limped as he walked, and Gogi saw that his clothes
were covered with mud. The natlia followed, his
rifle over his arm.
"It is Vasso's luck," said the smith, looking
with admiration at the huge boar that had fallen
276 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
to Vasso's share. To the natlia he said. "You see,
I did not pick such a good place for Vanno and
myself, after all. I got no pigs for my trouble,
and Vanno here got only this small one, and it
dragged him, spear and all, through the mud
"I have had my sport in finding them," said the
natlia, "We have more meat, now, than we can
carry. It is just as well that I missed my shot."
Back at the entrance of the valley Gogi and
Vanno started a fire, and soon they were roasting
chunks of fresh pork over the flames on green
sticks. Vasso took down the wine skin and they
all lunched before they began the journey home.
"It is a fine head that you have," said the natlia
to Vasso. He meant, of course, the wild boar's
"You may have it and welcome," said Vasso.
"I shall stuff it and hang it in my room," said
the natlia. "It will look very fine. See how long
the bristles are!"
Gogi tied the boar's head in the cloth which had
held the lunch and hung it on a pole which he and
Vanno carried on their shoulders. The others each
took a leg of pork and as much meat as they could
carry, and after a rest they started for home.
PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 277
The natlia was not to stuff the boar's head as
he wished. When the hunters arrived at Vasso's
house there was news awaiting them which made
them forget all things such as stuffed boars' heads.
The Russians were marching on Tiflis. It was
war, after all. The natlia hastily prepared to re-
turn to Tiflis, but Gogi remained. The schools
would be closed.
War, and the Stranger Again
NCE again Gogi stood on the little station
of Natonebi. But how changed the scene was now.
Gone the lazy idlers who used to await each train ;
gone the quiet. In place of the idlers stood knots
of soldiers in little round felt hats, rawhide mocca-
sins, and short brown overcoats of heavy home-
made felt. In place of the quiet there was bustle
and confusion. Officers with silver-hilted curved
swords strode hither and thither, shouting orders,
collecting their men as they came from the trains
which pulled into the station one after another.
The Georgian army was in retreat. The Rus-
sians were too many for their little army, brave as
WAR, AND THE STRANGER 279
it was. Tiflis had been lost to the enemy, who were
even now robbing the houses and churches and
shops. The president and his officers were some-
where on the road. Noah Jordani had waited until
the last minute, but when he saw that there was
no hope of withstanding the invaders he agreed
to leave the capital and retreat with the army
to the other side of the mountains. From the
Mountains of Ozerget to the village of Natonebi
and the sea the Georgians were getting ready to
make a last stand against their foes.
Father Vasso was away in the hills with his little
company of neighbors. Nina and sister Keto with
baby Morro stayed bravely at home, and Gogi
had come to Natonebi with the cart and the buffa-
loes to meet the natlia, who was also fleeing from
Tiflis with his books and papers and all the money
that he had been able to save in the short time
Someone said, "The next train will be the last;
they are going to blow up the big bridge over the
river above so that the enemy cannot follow."
Gogi was worried. He found that the natlias
would be cut off and killed by the Russians. The
tracks of the iron road were filled with cars. As
far as the eye could see there were trains. They
280 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
followed through as though they were one and
not many; through and on to Batum, the sea, and
ships which would have some of Georgia's trea-
sure if the enemy broke down this last line at
Gogi saw a company of soldiers with green
uniforms and round cloth caps with no visors.
"Who are these soldiers?" he asked of a Gurian
officer who stood near him.
"Those are Turks," said the ojBScer. "We have
called on our old enemies to help us at the last
moment. Our ministers have promised them the
city of Batum if they will only help us drive back
Gogi looked again at the Turks. They were not
bad-looking people, he decided. They had smiling
open faces and appeared to be friendly. At any
rate, they were better than the Russians. Gogi
had heard tales of Russians and their soldiers.
The station master no longer came out to ring
the station bell when a train arrived or left — ^he
no longer knew what came in or went out. He
sat hour after hour at his telegraph key receiving
and sending messages. Gogi saw him through the
window of his little office as he bent over his table
of instruments. Everyone seemed busy to Gogi,
WAR, AND THE STRANGER 281
He alone had nothing to do — ^just waiting. That,
he thought, was even harder than doing some-
thing. Suddenly there was stillness on the station
A tremendous explosion had silenced every
mouth and frozen every man in his place. Another
followed, and then a third. The sounds echoed and
reechoed from the mountains like rolling of heavy
"The bridge!" someone shouted. "They have
blown the bridge!"
The bridge was but a short distance away.
Gogi's heart fell. If the natlia had not found a
place on the one or two trains that crept along
between the bridge and the station he would never
reach Natonebi; Gogi shuddered at the thought.
The train which stood before the station whis-
tled and pulled out. Another drew up into its
place. This was the next to the last one. At the
very end was a coach with the blinds closed fast.
On the side of the coach was a great white star
with a figure — the figure of White Georgi. It
was the emblem of the Republic of Georgia. Fin-
gers pointed to it and Gogi heard excited whis-
"That is the car in which Tchuenni Noah sits,"
282 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
said a man. "He is very ill, they say, but refuses
to leave the army. A brave man, Our Noah!"
"A brave man, indeed," he was answered. "Life
to him ! Life to our president ! Life to Our Noah !"
Other voices took up the cry, and the air rang
with cheers for the courage of their cripple-presi-
The president's car was put on a siding and
the train left the station behind. Still the natlia
had not arrived. The last train pulled in. Gogi
rushed back and forth scanning the passengers.
At last his watchful eye found the tall figure of
the natlia. He looked tired, and there were lines
about his eyes, but he was as calm as ever. His
ready smile when he saw Gogi and the warm
words with which he greeted him soon made Gogi
forget all his early worries.
"The cart is waiting, iiafZia-heart," said Gogi,
after he had embraced his godfather. "Shall we
"I must send a telegram," said the natlia. "Let
us see if the agent will take a message for me."
Gogi followed the natlia into the station. At
the window of the station master's office the natlia
showed a pass to the guard and they were ad-
mitted to the telegraph office where the tired
WAR, AND THE STRANGER 283
agent sat. But before the natlia was able to speak
to the busy man there was a sharp command of
"Attention!" and a party of officers and civihans
crowded into the office.
One of the officers stepped to the front and
said to the agent, "Hold the wire for His Honor,
The agent leaped to his feet and stood at at-
tention. Gogi looked toward the newcomers. From
their midst stepped the president. It was the
same tired old man who had sat with Gogi in
the garden behind the palace at Tiflis. The same
old man, but perhaps a httle older and far more
tired. He limped painfully to the agent's table
and dropped wearily into the vacant chair.
"Get me, please, the governor of Batum," he
asked the agent.
The agent took up the telephone and called
the station of Batum. In another moment the
president was talking with the governor. His
voice was so low that Gogi could not hear what
was said, but when he hung the receiver on the
hook and turned about to the waiting officers
the president's face was more hopeless and sadder
"We have no hope," said he sorrowfully.
^84 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
"Other nations have battleships in the sea at
Batum, but they will not help us to fight. They
will only help us to run away. The Russians are
coming across the mountains and through the
Pass of Artvin. If all haste is not made we shall
be cut off from Batum. I have told the governor
at Batum to surrender without further fighting.
It would be foolish to fight when we have no hope
of winning. Enough of our brave Karthli have
been killed as it is."
No one answered the president. There was
nothing to say. He had merely spoken aloud
what they had all felt in their hearts for the last
two days. Georgia had again fallen to foreign
invaders. Georgians were about to become slaves
again. The agent had returned to his instruments,
but they no longer clicked. He lifted the receiver
and tried to get a connection on the telephone.
It was useless. The telephone was dead. The agent
turned to the group with the president.
"My instruments are dead," said he. "I cannot
get even the next station. Some spy has cut our
An officer turned to the president. "This means
that we dare not go to Batum, Batuna President,"
said he. "We must cut across the hills on horses
WAR, AND THE STRANGER 285
and trust to finding a boat on the seashore which
we can take and reach the ship by water. It will
be harder travel, Batuna President ; it is best that
you rest for a while before we start."
There was a cot in the station agent's room,
for he had slept at his instrument for the last few
days, and on this the president was begged to he
down for an hour's rest. When the president had
been made as comfortable as possible by the same
officer, who seemed to be a great person, the re-
mainder filed out of the room so that he might
have greater quiet. As Gogi passed through the
door the officer saw him for the first time, and
spoke to him.
"You are from Natonebi?" he asked. "You
know this village?"
"Yes, Batuna officer," answered Gogi.
''KJiargir said the officer. "That is well. Go
then and fetch a koM of water so that the Battma
President may wash and drink before he sleeps
for a while."
"I hear you," said Gogi, and made ready to
obey the order.
"I shall wait for you by the cart," cried the
natlia. "I will load my baggage and eat some
286 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
'"Khargir shouted Gogi over his shoulder as
he ran away on his errand.
When Gogi returned with the water in an
earthen koki he was admitted to the httle room
by the same officer, who stood at the closed door.
Gogi approached the figure on the rough cot.
"If you please, Batuna President," said he to
the old man on the cot. "Water I have brought
you that you may wash and drink before you
Gogi poured the water over the outstretched
hands of the president, and taking a glass from
the table, filled it that he might drink.
"Life to you and health," said Gogi, as the
president drank the glass of water which he
"To you life and thanks," replied the presi-
dent, and as he handed the glass back to Gogi
he raised his eyes and smiled at him. In that one
glance he recognized the boy.
^'Ahhar he exclaimed with surprise. "It is my
little Gurian neighbor who sat with me in the
"The same, Batuna President," replied Gogi,
flushed with happiness and pride that the great
man had remembered him.
WAR, AND THE STRANGER 287
"See!" said the president, who had not for-
gotten their talk. "The wall was not made so
strong by me after all. I have been a poor Surabo.
And in a few hours, perhaps, I shall be as dead
as Surabo has been these hundreds of years."
Gogi could only shake his head; he did not
know what to say.
"One must be young to be a hero like Surabo.
I am too old. You young people must become
the Surabos who will bring strength to the tribes
of the Karthli: you who are fighting."
"I am not fighting," Gogi managed to mur-
mur. "They say that I am too young to fight.
That is what they told Surabo. He was younger
even than I am."
"Yes," said the president, "you are too young."
"No man is too young to die for his country,"
replied Gogi with a smile. "That is what Surabo
said, and I, too, say the same."
At first Gogi thought that he had not been
heard. The old man sat on the edge of his cot
with closed eyes. Gogi stood and waited. When
the old man opened his eyes again there was a
smile in them. He motioned to Gogi to come
"You are right," said he, "as Surabo was right.
288 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
You can serve your country equally as well. If
you fail it is not your life that will be lost, but
something that should be dearer to any Karthli
than his life. I am going to give into your keeping
the honor of all the nation of the Karthli."
Here the president paused for a moment and
pulled from beneath the cot a small leather bag.
Opening this, he took out a square box of pohshed
wood fitted with hinges of silver. This he also
opened with a little key which was in the lock
and offered it so that Gogi might see what it held.
The box was lined with red velvet and on its
bottom lay a polished, pear-shaped object. This
the president lifted from the velvet and held it
in the light of the window. To the small end of
the pear was affixed a round disk. The surface
of the disk had been carved with letters and an
image. Gogi looked closer. The letters were the
letters of the "soldier's writing" of the Karthli
and the image was that of White Georgi, the
patron saint of the Caucasus and all Georgia.
"This," said the president solemnly, "is the
great seal of our country which is placed upon
all our papers. If it should fall into evil hands,
^uch as the hands of these invaders, it would cause
great harm. Evil people might write wrongful
WAR, AND THE STRANGER 289
things on paper, and when they sealed them with
this image of White St. Georgi no one would
be able to know that it had not been done by me
or some other of our true Karthli."
He paused again and returned the seal to the
box from which he had taken it. He reached into
the leather bag again and pulled out a red bundle.
When he had unfolded this bundle Gogi saw that
it was the flag of the Karthli — Si red flag with
a square of black and white in the corner. The
president wrapped the box in the flag and con-
"We are cut off from the ships at Batum. The
enemy are before and behind. My officers tell
me that we must cut across the hills to the sea
and seek a moat to save our lives. It will be a
very hard trip. The enemy may overtake us, or
I may fall by the road, for I am a very old man.
For this reason I am about to give our great seal
of the Karthli into your hands. You are young
and you wish to serve your country. Take it and
hide it away in the hills of our beautiful Guria
so that it can never fall into evil hands. Some
day I may come for it. If I do not come and the
time should arise you will know what is to be done.
Your heart will tell you what is best for the tribes
^90 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN
of Karthli and whom you may trust. Guard it
well. It is the honor of the Karthli, and Guria,
and you, and me. ... A good road to you and
long life; farewell, son of Guria."
Gogi had heard all that was said as in a dream.
But the weight of the flag-wrapped box in his
hands told him that it was no dream. He held
the seal of White St. Georgi and the Karthli.
He thrust the treasure beneath his blouse and
opened the door.
"A good road, Batuna President," said he.
"Long life to you. I shall wait for you and the
day in the hills of Guria. Farewell."
"You have worried the Batuna with your prat-
tle," said the officer as he closed the door behind
Gogi. "Is he resting well?"
"He was smiling," said Gogi. "I think that he
will rest well now."
At the cart the natlia stood. Gogi greeted him
and they both climbed into its middle.
"Ho, Rustam! Ho, Nazira!" shouted Gogi to
the sleepy buffaloes. The heavy wooden cart
creaked away from the station platform, now al-
most deserted, and the httle iron-road village of
Natonebi was soon left far behind.
Before them rose the lofty peaks of the Gurian
WAR, AND THE STRANGER 291
hills, but as yet they were in the low places. Gogi
would not feel quite safe until he saw the moun-
tains about him. Gurians used to sing in the low
places to drive away the goblins that they thought
lived there. Gogi did not beheve in goblins, but
when he felt the hard corners of the little wooden
box beneath the folds of his rough homespun
blouse he felt an urge to sing. He sang:
The mountains ahead showed warm and green
in the last rays of the setting sun and from their
woody sides came an answering echo like a homely
welcome to their midst:
"Ho-la-hooooooo. . . ."